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New tourism industry-led organization to oversee destination marketing for Prince Edward County

December 16, 2021

Picton, ON – A new organization led by tourism industry stakeholders will oversee tourism marketing and development for Prince Edward County beginning in 2022.

“As we rethink tourism in our community, a unique solution to destination marketing is required,” says Mayor Steve Ferguson. “This new approach will provide effective, accountable, ethical and transparent governance of Municipal Accommodations Tax investments related to tourism. It’s a win for the tourism industry, for residents and for visitors.”

The new Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) will operate at arm’s length of the municipality similar to the public library or affordable housing corporation. The new DMO provides the tourism industry with significant input on destination marketing decisions while creating a partnership with the municipality to align with tourism management planning.

A board of directors will oversee the governance of the DMO. Consultation with tourism industry stakeholders and the broader public will take place in January and February 2022 to determine the ideal competencies for the board of directors before recruitment for the inaugural board begins.

The County will continue to work closely with regional, provincial and national tourism sector partners to collect and review best practices and effective governance models for consideration. Details about how the new DMO will operate including its vision, values, goals and objectives will be shaped by industry consultation and be reflected in the organization’s by-laws and policies. Governance experts will be engaged to support this process.

The DMO will be funded by half of the proceeds of the Municipal Accommodations Tax, a 4% tax paid by visitors on overnight stays in The County. Presently, destination marketing is undertaken by municipal staff and funded through the tax-supported operating budget. When the transition to the new DMO is complete, destination marketing and visitor services will no longer be funded through the municipal budget. The remaining half of the MAT proceeds will be managed by the municipality, invested in projects that support tourism but also provide benefits to residents, such as parks, boat launches, trails, and tourism management efforts.

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For media inquiries, please contact Mark Kerr, Communications and Consultations Supervisor, at 613.476.2148 extension 1009 or by email at mkerr@pecounty.on.ca.

Background

  • Tourism is the largest economic sector in Prince Edward County, accounting for more than 31 per cent of jobs [Jobs Per Sector in PEC Ministry of Heritage, Sports, Tourism and Cultural Industries, Province of Ontario, 2017]
  • Since 2014, the municipality has been acting as the DMO for The County, managing the “Visit The County” brand and providing visitor services, funded through the tax-supported municipal budget.
  • In 2021, The County implemented a Municipal Accommodations Tax: a 4% tax paid by visitors on overnight stays in roofed accommodations in The County. The MAT is conservatively projected to generate $800,000 in 2021.
  • The MAT is governed by provincial legislation that stipulates that half of the revenues must be spent on destination marketing, while the other half can be invested by the municipality in projects that support tourism. Because the MAT is collected from visitors through the tourism sector, the legislation also says that the tourism sector must have a say in how the marketing funds are spent.
  • In October 2021, Council directed staff to begin the process of establishing an arms-length Municipal Services Corporation to lead destination marketing, funded through the MAT revenues. This corporation will be an industry-led organization responsible for tourism marketing, development, and visitor services.
  • The December 14, 2021 meeting authorized staff to apply for the certificate of incorporation, selected Councillors John Hirsch, Phil St-Jean, and Bill Roberts as interim directors for the purposes of incorporation, and to bring forward a by-law to formally establish the corporation in February 2022.
  • At the December 14 meeting, staff reported on a multi-phased approach to establishing the corporation that includes public consultation. Review the action plan here
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