Tourism Vancouver’s CEO admits more cash it will get from a 50% hike in the hotel tax will go towards paying down increasing Convention Centre debt, but he won’t reveal how much.
As of today, hotel guests will be paying a 3 per cent tax, up from 2 per cent, after the province gave the thumbs up.
Ty Speer was asked how much will go towards debt repayment, which is pegged at more than $100-million dollars.
“I do have a specific figure, it’s part of a confidential contract. There is a set amount, that is a contractual obligation for us to pay, it is part of our contract with the province, that document is confidential, but I can confirm to you that it is less than 40%.”
“A lot of people ask me questions about whether or not it is a problem that we have a debt liability for the Convention Centre. My view is that we have an asset in the Convention Centre, not a liability.”
New Democrat tourism critic David Eby says thanks to high interest rates, the organization has less to spend on actually promoting Vancouver.
“The provincial government is charging an interest rate premium for that debt at 6.1% when the province borrows at 4% that is costing Tourism Vancouver 2 million dollars a year that we think should be going into promoting tourism in Vancouver, not into general revenue for the province.”
Speers says it will take decades to pay it all off, but he see’s the Convention Centre as a tourism asset, not a liability.