Posted on Jul 11, 2021
UCP MUST SUPPORT TOURISM INDUSTRY, EXTEND LEVY ABATEMENT
CALGARY - Alberta’s NDP and the Calgary Hotel Association are calling on the UCP government to extend the tourism levy abatement as hotels continue to struggle with low occupancy even as the Alberta economy reopens.
The groups are proposing to extend the levy abatement until September 2022, which is expected to put $50 million back into the tourism industry.
“For Alberta’s tourism, hospitality and lodging sector, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges,” said NDP MLA for Calgary-Buffalo, Joe Ceci. “But we aren't back to normal yet, and the tourism industry clearly needs more support to make it to the other side and to help steer our economic future.”
Alberta’s tourism levy is a four per cent charge that is required to be collected by all accommodation providers and remitted back to the Government of Alberta. The UCP abated the levy until June 30, 2021 due to low occupancy rates during the pandemic. But even as the Calgary Stampede kicked off last week, hotels in Calgary continue to struggle with occupancy rates currently at 50 per cent, according to Executive Director of the Calgary Hotel Association Sol Zia.
“If our hotels could retain and invest the tourism levy, as guest revenues once again become meaningful, we could ensure more hotels survive and that we can re-hire as many of our lost workforce as possible,” said Zia. “Our ask to the government today, as it has been for many months - and again we are not asking for a handout - is to simply support Alberta tourism. Abate the tourism levy and do all you can to encourage the survival of tourism for all travellers to our beautiful province.”
According to the Alberta government, the province’s tourism industry contributed $7.3 billion to provincial GDP and employed 72,500 people full-time.
“Hotels are only starting to see visitors come back. The decision to reinstate the levy was premature and a mistake,” said Deputy Leader Sarah Hoffman, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Glenora. “Extending the abatement would allow Alberta hotels and other accommodation providers to have some time to get their legs back underneath them and would allow them to devote further funding to marketing and promotion as we attempt to draw travelers back.”