Historic Agreement Reached Between City of Victoria and Tourism Industry

Victoria, B.C. – Tourism Victoria is pleased to announce a historic agreement reached in principle on the framework of a renewed relationship between the City of Victoria, Tourism Victoria and the tourism industry as a whole.

“This framework, which was agreed on in principle today, sets the foundation for the next generation of growth for tourism in Victoria,” says Dave Cowen, Chair of Tourism Victoria’s Board of Directors. “The framework was last agreed upon almost 30 years ago in 1988. It’s time for renewal and modernization and we’re so pleased Council supports the agreement in principle.”


 The framework for the renewed relationship sees the following four elements achieved:

Tourism Victoria’s Municipal Regional District Tax (MRDT) grandfather status is removed and the organization is granted the Eligible Entity for Destination Marketing

 This element sees the City of Victoria move from a “grandfathered status” community for Municipal Regional District Tax (MRDT) program to one where Tourism Victoria is the Eligible Entity for MRDT. Renewal and approval of the Tourism Victoria tax status moves from annual renewal by City Council to one via City Council and an accommodation sector vote every five years. This puts Victoria in line with all community Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) created after 1997 and provides for a medium term planning horizon and predictability certainty for Tourism Victoria, allowing the organization to focus on building the business.

 Tourism Victoria will take the lead on the Sales and Marketing function at the Victoria Conference Centre (VCC), deepening the Victoria Conference Optimization Network (VCON) partnership

Over the past year Tourism Victoria, the VCC and conference hotels have worked together in partnership to improve the performance of the meetings business through VCON. However, there are efficiencies that can be partnered on to further improve the results. Until such time as the ownership of the VCC reverts back to the Fairmont Empress in 2037 or sooner, VCON (representative of the tourism industry), through Tourism Victoria, is the lead on marketing and sales at the VCC.

The marketing and sales plan for the VCC would be jointly approved by the City of Victoria and Tourism Victoria, and have meaningful business and revenue targets to ensure the City of Victoria can maintain and keep the VCC in good order and competitive in the marketplace. VCC business results will likely improve due to implementation of innovations in sales and marketing for the Centre such as consistent branding, improved marketing and sales functions, and a reduction in duplication of efforts and investments. This will reduce duplications from the current state where both Tourism Victoria and the VCC have sales and marketing functions for the meetings business.

The Tourism Industry, through Tourism Victoria, will make a one million dollar industry contribution towards the David Foster Harbour Pathway, focused on Phase 2 of the Belleville Street Terminal. This matches the City of Victoria’s one million dollar contribution

The tourism industry, through Tourism Victoria, will make a one million industry contribution over 11 years to building the David Foster Harbour Pathway. This investment is focused on Phase Two of the Belleville Street Terminal plan. Both the DFHP and completion of the Belleville Street Terminal are important priorities of the City of Victoria strategic plan. The City of Victoria receives meaningful and concrete consideration for granting Eligible Entity status to Tourism Victoria. The industry contribution is a vital and important piece in completing the long anticipated renewed Belleville Street terminal as it would largely secure resourcing for Phase Two.

“It is important to note,” says Paul Nursey, President & CEO. “These two assets are important elements of local tourism infrastructure and also benefit local residents.”

The accommodation sector, through a vote, voluntarily agrees to raise the MRDT from 2% to 3%

The framework of this renewed relationship supports the position of the British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) and the four recommendations of the BCHA to enhance the MRDT program. There are also a number of provincial requirements that stress community input, alignment with provincial effort, effectiveness and disclosure. These are principles Tourism Victoria already supports. With the BCHA conditions met, it is hoped the Victoria accommodation community will vote to raise the ceiling of the MRDT from 2% to 3% in order to stay competitive with other communities in British Columbia. City Council amended the motion to include studying the financial implications of raising the tax, which Tourism Victoria views as prudent.

For the past few months Tourism Victoria, the City of Victoria and the accommodation sector have worked collaboratively towards the framework of the renewed relationship elements detailed above. This framework truly keeps the best interests of all parties involved in mind. The framework comprises benefits to the City of Victoria, Tourism Victoria, the accommodation sector, tourism industry as a whole and Victoria residents.

The application process for the taxation elements of the framework takes approximately nine months. These framework elements are effective January 1, 2017.  Tourism Victoria will return to Council with a completed accommodation registry and strategy along with the completed MRDT application in February 2016.