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Local hotels likely to benefit from tourism fee freeze

The Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association says support from the province for local hotels couldn’t come at a better time. The government says it will not be collecting tourism levies from the hospitality industry between March 1 and December 31, 2020.

GPRTA Executive Director Terry Dow says the savings found locally will arrive just in time, as the local tourism industry is trying to reinvent itself in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Not just Grande Prairie Regional Tourism going through the experience, it’s tourism worldwide, and no one ever prepared for this, and there is no report to fall back on,” she says.

The provincial government says the measure will free up between $16 million and $27 million in additional cash flow for the hospitality sector, which employs 30,000 people. Anything deferred before March under the previously announced program can still be deferred until August 31st.

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Dow says, on a regional level, there is still hesitation from some to head outdoors in droves, but she believes the slow drip will continue.

“Everyone is just starting to peek their heads as you go out on the trails and campgrounds… and as you saw probably driving around this weekend there were more people parked on the side of the roads and using those trails.”

She adds a longer-term strategy for the organization is in the works, but, for the most part, it will go along with progress in the science world.

“We’re working with Travel Alberta to rework tourism. It’s going to come in phases and once we see a [potential] vaccine and travel restrictions lifted we will see people move around more.”

Regular tourism levy payments will be expected again in 2021.

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