Outaouais Tourism plans to increase the fee to $3 per overnight stay, up from $2, effective July 1. This will allow the group, it stated, to work on priorities previously outlined in a strategic plan:
- Spend $250,000 to $300,000 annually in a new "Outaouais region awareness campaign" that will be launched in summer 2013 (details were not disclosed);
- Increase Outaouais Tourism's tourism development spending by an unspecificed amount, to aim to improve tourist experiences in culture, vacations, family activities, business travel and outfitters.
The authorization came from the provincial budget tabled in March, which allowed for tourism regions to increase their lodging surcharges if they desired. Outaouais Tourism consulted with local hoteliers prior to implementing the increase.
The fee funds a provincial tourist department fund that is intended to strengthen tourist promotion and development in the province. Lodging fees apply to all establishments in a Quebec tourist region after a request to the government through its regional tourist association; Outaouais Tourism is one of them.
After administration costs, all revenues flow to the participating regional tourist association who collected the fees. These associations have the choice of a flat lodging surcharge of $2 or $3 per overnight stay, or of three per cent per overnight stay.
Outaouais Tourism is a private, not-for-profit organization that is responsible for tourism development, promotion and information in the region. It has been around since 1981.
On the other side of the river, Ottawa Tourism used to be funded through a destination marketing fee levied on participating hotel rooms. That was removed in 2010 with the implementation of the HST.
Two years of temporary provincial funding to replace that money will be replaced by a smaller, permanent amount in 2013, potentially slicing Ottawa Tourism's budget in half. The Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association is asking all hotels in the region to implement a new DMF to address the shortfall.