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Banff hoteliers grateful for tourism levy abatement

“In light of the growing challenges associated with the Omicron variant, we are pleased with the government’s decision to again abate the Alberta tourism levy in recognition of the lodging sector’s need to find cash flow to make it through the winter season."
Fairmont Banff Springs from Norquay
The view of the Fairmont Banff Springs from Mount Norquay. GREG COLGAN RMO PHOTO

BOW VALLEY – Hotels that saw a 40 per cent decline in room revenue from 2019 will be allowed to keep the tourism levy amounts they collect from Oct. 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

Darren Reeder, executive director of Banff and Lake Louise Hospitality Association, said the new revenue-tested approach will assist those lodging sector partners that have been the most deeply impacted by the enduring effects of COVID-19.

“In light of the growing challenges associated with the Omicron variant, we are pleased with the government’s decision to again abate the Alberta tourism levy in recognition of the lodging sector’s need to find cash flow to make it through the winter season,” he said.

According to the province, the 40 per cent revenue drop strikes a balance between the thresholds of the small and medium enterprise relaunch grant (30 per cent decline), British Columbia’s small and medium-sized recovery grant (30 per cent) and Ontario’s tourism recovery program (50 per cent).

Government officials say the six-month tourism levy abatement leaves money in the hands of employers in the tourism industry, helping them retain staff and continue operating during a challenging time for their sector.

“We’re pleased to extend the abatement to offer lodging providers additional cash flow during the pandemic,” said Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews in a news release.

The revenue-tested abatement will be administered using the Tax and Revenue Administration Client Self-Service’s secure online portal for the majority of hotels.

The system will determine whether an accommodation provider is eligible for the abatement for each period. Implementing this program will take up to six weeks.

Revenue for each collection period – month or quarter – of the abatement period will be the amount of room revenue that is subject to the tourism levy.

Accommodation providers that were not required to collect the tourism levy in the corresponding month or quarter of 2019, hosts providing short-term accommodation in residential units and hotels not in operation in 2019 are not eligible for the abatement.

Eligible accommodation providers that have already remitted tourism levy amounts collected on or after Oct. 1 will automatically receive a refund.

Accommodation providers are still required to file returns as per the Tourism Levy Act and will be expected to resume regular tourism levy remittances of amounts collected on or after April 1, 2022.

The Alberta government previously approved the abatement of the tourism levy from March 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Almost $47 million in capital was freed up for the sector throughout the original 18-month abatement period.

According to the province, tourism spending by visitors in 2019 contributed to the provincial economy with 68,000 tourism jobs and $6.5 billion to Alberta’s GDP – $3.9 billion direct, $1.5 billion indirect and $1.1 billion induced.