Mountain News 

Banff plans major marketing push

BANFF, Alberta —Tourism boosters in Banff and Lake Louise are calling for a major expansion of marketing efforts. The money, $5 million annually, would be gained primarily by exacting a 2 per cent bed tax on the 15,200 lodging pillows in the area. Marketing efforts currently have a $1.5 million budget.

"This is huge. It’s about making us competitive again," said Julie Canning, executive director of Banff Lake Louise Tourism. Her organization reports that Banff and Lake Louise spend an average $67 per pillow in marketing, compared to $518 per pillow at Whistler and $507 at Tremblant, Quebec. With this proposed levy, Banff-Lake Louise would be spending $349 per pillow.

Another key proposal, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, would boost funding for special events, which promoters say they can then use as leverage for gaining sponsors for events. "It’s like a chicken-and-egg problem," explained Canning. To get sponsors requires staging good events, but good events are impossible without sponsors.

The group proposes to even levy a 2 per cent fee on camping sites in Banff National Park. However, it proposes to grandfather any tour and travel contracts already in place if the bed tax goes into place June 1, as members want.

Boosters of the tax pledge that administrative costs would be kept to 20 per cent of the overall budget. Of remaining money, 70 per cent would be allocated to destination marketing and sales and the other 30 per cent to improving the visitor experience.

Sales tax revenue surges

VAIL, Colo. — Collections of sales taxes, the most reliable indicator of the economic health of a tourism community in Colorado, set a record last year in Vail, the second straight year for a new benchmark.

Sales tax collections increased 6.4 per cent, outpacing inflation in the nation’s urban areas that was estimated at 3.5 per cent. A similar story was told the previous year.

In Vail, that tax generated $16.5 million, which constitutes 40 per cent of the municipal budget.

This increase is a marked change from much of the 1990s, when tax collections lagged behind inflation. But if the tourism economy is doing well, the real estate economy is doing even better. Collections of the town’s 2 per cent real estate transfer tax yielded $6.2 million for the town government, a 27 per cent increase from the previous year.

There had been some worries in Vail that major reconstruction now underway would discourage visitors and hence soften tax collections. Given comparisons to Aspen, that may have been the case.

In Aspen, sales tax collections last year were up 10.5 per cent, the third straight year for increases. However, town officials continue to see some gloom amid these numbers. When inflation is figured in, reports The Aspen Times, the revenues were slightly less than they were a decade ago.

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