The City of Brandon’s new accommodation tax has collected more than $214,000 in the first three months.
City treasurer Dean Hammond said the amount brought in between July 1 to Sept. 30 is in line with their initial projections of $800,000 to $1 million per year.
“Things went pretty smoothly for the first go-around,” Hammond said. “We were working closely with hoteliers to make sure they understand the process and what the expectations were.”
The city is still waiting on one hotel to submit their accommodation tax funds.
“It’s a very small hotel, so we’re following up to make sure that we receive their payment,” Hammond said. “It’s not going to significantly change that amount.”
Hammond wouldn’t disclose which hotel is still holding out, citing privacy issues.
“We’re still following up with that one hotel but I’m not anticipating any issues there,” Hammond said. “And going forward, we’ll continue to work with the hotels to make sure the process works smoothly.”
The accommodation tax means hotel guests pay roughly $3 extra per night. Funds collected from the hotel tax will be funnelled into tourism initiatives, particularly for attracting or keeping events in Brandon.
City council approved a $25,000 grant to Hockey Brandon for the Tournament of Champions this week, which is the first payment out of the accommodations tax reserve.
Hockey Brandon president Glen Parker said they are honoured to be the first group, and are looking forward to what the grant will help them accomplish.
“It will be to initially help us market the tournament so we can try to attract more teams from further away, that will add to the whole feel of the tournament, giving it that international flavour again,” Parker said.
The annual tournament runs every February, and brings an estimated 4,000 people, including hockey players and parents to the city.
“We’re certainly trying to maintain that number but we want to increase the awareness and … add the sizzle to the steak,” he said. “Do some more off-ice stuff, so people are encouraged to keep coming here and enjoy their time, even when they’re not at the rink.”
No other applications have been submitted to access the accommodation tax reserve.
“The only means in which funds can be spent out of that fund are when applications are made that fit the criteria that’s been set up,” said Sandy Trudel, the city’s director of economic development. “So basically that reserve will continue to grow until, obviously, events come forward ... or requests that meet the criteria are approved.”
Trudel expects more applications will start to come in, as more people learn about and understand the goal of the funding.
“(It’s) a new funding process, so people are just beginning to get their heads wrapped around what it means relative to the potential for bringing new events to the community,” Trudel said.
The main goal of the initiative is to generate events that will result in overnight stays in Brandon.
“It could be a new event that is applying, it could be an existing event that is looking to enhance their event and generate more room nights, or it could be an event that is in existence and ... their existence in Brandon is being threatened by another community’s pursuit of them,” Trudel said.