In November of 2012, the provincial government announced Destination BC, a new industry-led, formula-funded Crown corporation that will work collaboratively with tourism stakeholders across the province to market B.C.’s rich tourism resources. Destination BC would replace Tourism BC, the Crown corporation that was folded by the government and its responsibilities rolled into a government tourism ministry. At the time, the WTABC was cautiously optimistic about this announcement. In February 2013 government released the Destination BC Corp Act. In a position paper submitted to the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training), the WTABC identified four main areas of concern with Destination BC: funding, governance, staffing, and control as referenced in the attached position paper. At the root of our concerns is the issue of direct government management and control of the corporation. From a tourism industry perspective, the Destination BC structure should support an industry-led, formula funded agency that is accountable to the tourism industry and government, but autonomous in operations. Click here for a copy of our position paper.
While the WTABC Board felt that the Destination BC Act should pass, and we applauded the government’s move towards returning BC’s tourism marketing and development back to a crown corporation, we find many deficiencies in the current structure and the Act that need to be identified and improved. The Destination BC Corp Act received Royal Assent in the BC Legislature on March 14, 2013. We have the opportunity to return BC to a global leader in tourism marketing and development with the new organization if it is structured appropriately. We look forward to working with the tourism industry and government to improve upon the current model.
In December 2014 the Province amended the BC Employment Standards Regulation to exclude Wilderness Guides from the hours of work and overtime provisions in Part 4 of the Employment Standards Act. This new exclusion is effective December 22, 2014. A copy of the approved Order in Council can be found here.
Business owners and guide employees will appreciate the cost and administrative savings this amendment will create. Special thanks go out to the staff of the Labour Policy and Legislation Division of the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Ministry Responsible for Labour for their efforts in helping us develop this amendment and advancing it for approval. We also applaud the government for their foresight in approving this amendment and their understanding that this amendment will greatly help our sector. For more information please contact Evan Loveless, WTABC Executive Director, at 250-336-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tourism operators have experienced a general trend in the overall nature and extent of tax shifts in recent years (e.g. the changes in the cost structures of tourism businesses associated with government-levied taxes and/or fees – i.e. property taxes, tenure pricing) where there is a degree of tourism-related taxation unfairness and/or imbalance. In certain regions, this situation has escalated at an unprecedented rate. One of the most pressing tax areas is property tax and the assessed value of tourism properties. This issue has been compounded with the introduction of the HST. Tourism services were previously exempt from PST, but with the HST, have experienced a 7% increase with input tax credits only accounting for a portion of this increase (see HST below).
With our industry partners, the WTA is working towards taxation relief for the nature based tourism sector.
Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)
The impact (negative or positive) of the HST on the nature based tourism industry was somewhat complicated and differed throughout our sector. In 2010 the WTA conducted a theoretical analysis of the HST impact and calculated that on average our sector would see a net impact (increase) of 3.95% (or 4%) in moving from the PST/GST to the HST after input tax credits (ITCs) were accounted for. This impact needs to be weighed against things like whether a company or sector can claim Visitor Rebates through the Federal government’s Foreign Convention and Tour Incentive Program (FCTIP), how much in specific ITCs a company can claim depending on its business expense profile, and the efficiencies of a single value-added tax (VAT) system. As an industry, it would also be prudent to look at the impacts of HST on the overall economy and consumer confidence/spending. The best outcome for the tourism industry would likely have been an HST system with a full functioning visitor rebate program and enhanced ITCs for things like labour. However, with the now-famous BC HST referendum complete, which voted to scrap the HST and return to the old PST system, we won’t find out.