Jeremy Wilson, a spokesperson from the Sooke-Juan de Fuca Working Group, speaks at a recent tourism conference in Sooke. The group would like to see a new tax implemented on hotel rooms in order to benefit tourism in the area. (Jack Most/Sooke News Mirror)

Groups seek hotel tax to increase Sooke tourism

The Sooke Region Tourism Association and the Sooke-Juan de Fuca Working Group want a new tax implemented on hotel rooms in order to benefit tourism in the area.

The Municipal and Regional District Tax Program is a tax that would potentially be a added to the bill of accommodations in the area, including hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and other short term lodging.

The tax is generally around two or three per cent of the cost of a room, but can be no greater than three per cent, and all the money collected would go towards Sooke’s tourism budget.

“The money collected from this tax, is how we would sell Sooke to the world,” said Jeremy Wilson, a spokesperson for the Sooke-Juan de Fuca Working Group.

“Currently, Sooke’s tourism budget sits around $35,000, so to put that in to scope, Tofino has a budget of about $1.4 million. This tax could add upwards of $150,000 to our budget.”

Wilson explained that the goal of bigger budget is to broaden Sooke’s outreach.

“This could help us in every way. We could have more of an online presence, attend tourism shows and events, and we could maybe even hire an administrator, because right now everything is volunteer based,” said Wilson.

“We are one of the only regions that doesn’t have this tax already, and I think it will be a huge economic benefit for Sooke. The more we can market the town, the busier it will be, which means businesses will do better and more jobs will be created.”

Municipalities must apply to Destination B.C. to have the tax implemented.

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