In its first six months, the City of Brandon’s accommodation tax has brought in more than $384,000.
The new tax, which adds roughly $3 per room charge, was launched last July. The goal is to provide grants for tourism initiatives, particularly for attracting or keeping events in Brandon.
So far, two events have received grants from the accommodation tax reserve — Hockey Brandon’s Tournament of Champions ($25,000) and just recently the Wheat City Lions Club for its mid-winter convention ($5,000).
Sandy Trudel, the city’s director of economic development, said she expected a bit of a slow start, as it is a new process for the city.
"We knew … it was going to take time for everybody to figure out what it meant, and to get their thoughts and their plans in place," she said. "So we anticipated the first little while would be slow, and as folks became more familiar with it … applications would increase. So for me, would I love to see more? Absolutely."
The review committee will be looking at an application submitted by the Wheat City Stampede next week and there are a handful of others Trudel expects to see within the next month.
"This is a tool for absolutely every event option that is out there," Trudel said. "What council has done through the accommodation tax, is create an incentive pool to host events. So as long as those events are generating overnight stays in the community, it’s a great incentive for them."
If existing events are adding elements that increase overnight stays, the incentive is there for them as well.
"It’s really getting people to truly be thinking of this as an incentive for hosting an event in Brandon," Trudel said.
City treasurer Dean Hammond presented the 2012 accommodation tax annual report to council Tuesday.
Hammond said the process has been fairly straightforward and without major issues.
"At the end of each reporting period, a notice is sent to each hotel reminding them that remittances for the prior quarter are due," states the report. "For any late remittances, treasury follows up with the individual owners or managers of those facilities."
The treasury performs an analysis and if any major discrepancies are found, then the treasurer would follow up with those establishments to ensure compliance with the program.
Hammond suggests the tax be maintained at its current rate of $3 per room night through 2013, as hotel guests are now somewhat used to that number and to change it this early in the program could lead to confusion and disruption of established processes.
To apply for a grant from the accommodation tax reserve, people are encouraged to contact Brandon First, or visit www.brandon.ca/accommodation-tax.