Tourism Golden has received approval from the Ministry of Finance to renew its status as the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for Golden and Kicking Horse Country until 2016.
With overwhelming support from 93 per cent of its tourism stakeholders, the renewal application also included an enhancement of the DMO boundary to include Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
From October 2012, eligible accommodators at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort will also begin collecting the two per cent Additional Hotel Room Tax which provides the funding for the organization.
With a new team in place, and the anticipated additional funds, Tourism Golden is embarking on a five-year strategic plan to promote Golden and Kicking Horse Country as a destination of choice, to achieve their stated ambition to increase the economic impact of tourism in the area, and growing revenues for businesses that serve tourists by 20 per cent by 2016.
Marketing Manager Joanne Sweeting and Administrator Rachel Wilde both joined the organization in February of this year.
With more than 25 years experience in the travel industry, Sweeting is excited about the positive impact that tourism in Kicking Horse Country has, both on the community and economy, as well as the visitor.
“Tourism is one of Golden’s major industries, and although we have had more than just global economic meltdown to cope with (a late start to summer and stories of flooding and mudslides in B.C.), there are signs of recovery which will provide a much-needed boost to our local economy and jobs.
In our last fiscal year the tax revenues which fund Tourism Golden increased by almost four per cent on the prior year, and if the 2011/12 revenues continue as they have started, we will almost return to the level of 2007/08. As our income is directly entwined with that of our accommodator stakeholders, that means they are seeing positive revenue movements too,” she said.
Sweeting is also keen to point out more positives to having a recognised tourism industry and DMO. “It’s a common misconception that a DMO is a drain on local tax payers and resources, however a DMO receives funds solely from a tax levied on overnight stays in hotels and other accommodations. We are able to do our job in marketing Golden as a tourist destination, and provide support to the local economy, without costing the community a penny. More importantly, this funding model means our success relies on our stakeholder success and vice-versa – it’s a great incentive for us to do the best possible job we can.”
Additionally, the existence of Tourism Golden as a DMO, coupled with the status of Golden as a Resort Municipality, makes the town eligible to participate in the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI). That’s a grant scheme which provides funds to support investment in the creation of tourism and community-based infrastructure.
“But apart from the serious stuff, Golden and Kicking Horse Country is the home of great activities, great beauty, and great community spirit … and that makes for real down-to-earth fun and enjoyment, whether you are just visiting, or call Golden your own back yard,” said Sweeting.