June 28, 2018 | Mississauga, Ontario — Today at the City of Mississauga General Committee Meeting, Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT) President & CEO David Wojcik made a deputation on a staff report on the future of tourism in the city.
Mr. Wojcik was the sole presenter at the meeting that will generate over $10 million a year from the new Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) charged on all overnight stays in the city and is supposed to be allocated to tourism activities benefitting Mississauga. Over sixty hotel and motel properties are now required to charge this 4% tax.
Accountability, transparency and a commitment to reinvest this money back into tourism was Mr. Wojcik’s key message. His full deputation is below.
Mr. Chair and Members of Committee,
I am pleased to appear before you on behalf of the Mississauga Board of Trade to address the report before you on tourism in Mississauga.
As you may know, we have been very active on this issue since the Government of Ontario announced that municipalities could create a Municipal Accommodation Tax otherwise known as MAT, for overnight stays and employ this new revenue to support and enhance tourism activities.
The Mississauga Board of Trade, along with our hotel and motel stakeholders, have been supportive of this new regime so long as the revenue generated is truly dedicated to the promotion of tourism and driving “heads in beds” in the hotels, motels and other short term accommodation establishments within the City of Mississauga.
Council may be aware, the Mississauga Board of Trade attended the recent conference of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, to learn more about tourism in Ontario and Canada and act as a responsible stakeholder in helping Mississauga establish its Tourism Master Plan.
Further, we have maintained a consistent position that Mississauga should, in the near future and at the appropriate time, establish its own “made in Mississauga” Tourism Bureau with direct input from stakeholders on the priorities and opportunities for the investment of the MAT revenues into local tourism.
While we recognize the recommendation to default to the current Regional Tourism Organization, Tourism Toronto, for your service agreement with respect to Mississauga’s MAT funding, we believe in the longer term that an independent, pro-Mississauga tourism agency be established with the Mississauga Board of Trade contributing as a key stakeholder.
As the third largest City in this province, it is time we take control of our own destiny and invest directly in our tourism industry without relying on third party, disinterested agencies.
We believe that a made in Mississauga Tourism Bureau funded by the MAT is the only true pathway for our great City to truly embrace the impact and realization on a tourism plan, built for Mississauga.
We have carefully read through the staff report before you today and are pleased to offer our support to its recommendations with the following reservation.
While the staff recommends defaulting to Tourism Toronto in the short term, we have grave reservations with respect to this organization. It has close ties to the Greater Toronto Hotel Association, which has proven to be a less than stellar partner through the by-law process of the MAT. Tourism Toronto, although receiving $9.7 M per year from the province of Ontario for the express purpose of driving tourism to the Peel and Toronto Region, invests less than 5% in procuring Mississauga specific Tourism AND the bulk of that money is for a visitor guide, which is distributed with the valiant efforts of City tourism staff in order to attract out of town guests.
We are very pleased to see MBOTs position on a tourism capital fund is recommended in this report.
We are also pleased to see our position on using, the discretionary portion of the MAT, to support tourism related activities, events and groups, is also supported in this report.
We have also been an advocate for using the MAT, in its entirety, for the funding of tourism. We are pleased to see that by way of 50% of the MAT being channeled through the designated tourism agency and the other 50% being allocated to pure tourism related activity, we note the staff is supporting the MBOT position, that NONE of the MAT will be used to fund other City services or reduce property taxes.
We further recommend that these monies continue to be accumulated in the special reserve funds, which have already been established, so a clear and transparent accounting of how these funds are distributed and invested may be patently provided.
One of the recommendations in this staff report we strongly support, is the establishment of a COUNCIL SANCTIONED, Tourism Advisory Board with oversight and responsibility for ensuring Mississauga’s tourism priorities and Master Plan are acted upon and effectively implemented by the designated interim agency. The Mississauga Board of Trade volunteers and fully anticipates being a member of this valuable and established Advisory Board.
We have been presented a wonderful opportunity to grow and expand a vibrant tourism culture in Mississauga through the new Municipal Accommodation Tax.
The Mississauga Board of Trade looks forward with great anticipation, to providing our commitment and the involvement of our local member stakeholders, in the implementation of the Mississauga Tourism Master Plan.
The Mississauga Board of Trade looks forward to working with you on this as we move forward.