ORHMA urges provincial legislative authority for DMPs

ORHMA's Tony Elenis.

ORHMA's Tony Elenis.

TORONTO — Tony Elenis, president and CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA), urged the provincial government to consider implementing legislative or regulatory authority for destination marketing programs to help Ontario’s accommodations industry stay competitive, at pre-budget consultations held in early February in the Toronto area.

According to documents provided by ORHMA, Elenis, during his presentation, noted that the provincial government “does not have the amount of funding required for destination marketing and Ontario's accommodations industry will not able to compete in an industry that is highly competitive without the type of funding generated by the DMP.” He cited such competitors as Airbnb, which “is a threat to the accommodations sector, its huge supply chain and to jobs. Approximately 35 per cent of all youth work in the hospitality industry. Every day the government waits is a day without tax revenues. We call on Ontario to follow the lead of the province of Quebec and regulate Airbnb.”

Elenis noted that a legislative or regulatory framework for DMPs “will provide certainty needed by the industry; would validate destination programs as a value economic development mechanism; will mandate that funds raised through these programs be used solely for the purpose of promoting tourism; and specifically addresses visitor experience and consumer protection

Furthermore, Elenis noted that “a major concern to the DMP is a municipal added tax to the hotel guestroom rate. The ability for municipalities such as the City of Toronto to add a tax to a hotel guest room rate will…kill the DMP.”

Therefore, the ORHMA recommends that the government of Ontario legislate no new taxation powers to implement a hotel/ lodging tax under the Ontario Municipal Act for all municipalities in the province of Ontario.

Finally, Elenis addressed government over-regulation. “The industry is aiming to comply with the recent new AODA and MOL safety standards, but it’s tough, with new non-stop regulations thrown at them. Our sector is unique as it touches upon several Ministries.”

In response, ORHMA recommends that the provincial government review all pieces of legislation coming into force for January 2017 and “consider delays, for implementation — a financial impact study makes sense.”