Kingston is the latest Ontario city to adopt a new hotel tax. The four per cent levy will be charged to anyone who stays in a hotel, motel or bed and breakfast.
City officials say they are still finalizing the implementation date, but say it could begin as early as 2019 following more consultation with the local accommodation industry. Councillors approved the so-called accommodation tax at their March 6 meeting.
Councillors say the mandatory accommodation tax will generate about $3.2 million a year for tourism promotion and marketing, and some of the revenue could be used to make it easier for cruise ships to dock in Kingston.
Hugh Mackenzie, general manager of Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises, supports the need for a deep water dock to better accommodate passengers as more cruise ships ply the Great Lakes.
“The cruise industry has a great interest in developing the Great Lakes cruising business. Those operators who are operating on the Great Lakes now are experiencing a high level of demand. The cruises that are coming through now are virtually sold out.”
It’s expected that revenues generated from the hotel tax will be shared between Tourism Kingston and Kingston Accommodation Partners to help market the city as a tourism destination. City Coun. Jim Neill says the new tax, charged for each overnight stay, will reduce the burden on municipal taxpayers to subsidize Tourism Kingston.
“We aren’t adding a taxation burden to local business, it’ll have no impact on our municipal taxes but it gives a really thriving industry in Kingston, our tourism industry, greater potential for growth with the money that will be raised.”
City officials say they are still working on a plan to spend the new hotel tax revenue, but say more money could be spent on a deep water dock, buying media ads in bigger cities like Toronto and Montreal, and trying to land sport tourism events such as the Brier men’s curling tournament in 2020.
Kingston’s four per cent room tax is based on the same rate that other cities are either implementing or considering. Ottawa and Mississauga have adopted a similar tax, while Toronto, Niagara Falls and London are still pondering it.