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New tax filling tourism association coffers

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The Sunshine Coast Tourism board of directors and staff, from the left: Paul Kamon, Leah MacNeil, Theressa Logan, Jack Barr, Celia Robben, Martin Prestage, Linda Williams (in orange shirt), Paul Hansen, Marlane Christensen (in purple shirt), Christine Hollmann (behind), Andrea Wickham-Foxwell and Lauren Stanton-Nixdorf. In front, Annie Schroeder and Jamie Mani. Donna McMahon photo

Accommodation operators and other tourism industry participants gathered at the Gibsons Public Market on Nov. 1 for the annual general meeting of Sunshine Coast Tourism (SCT), chaired by SCT President Martin Prestage of Up the Creek Backpacker Lodge in Roberts Creek.

SCT’s fiscal year that ended on April 31 was the first year the organization collected revenue from the new Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT), which came into effect in August 2016, so the treasurer’s report was upbeat.

Even without a full year of MRDT revenues, income grew from $158,080 in 2016 to $694,397 in 2017. Thanks to the revenue the organization hired four paid staff to support their volunteer board: Executive Director Paul Kamon and a three-person marketing team.

Kamon told the meeting that he is working on a 10-year destination development plan for this region and will launch a consultation process with stakeholders in the spring.

Annie Schroeder, marketing director, reported that SCT’s new website (sunshinecoastcanada.com) and social media campaigns have been very successful. The organization hosts visits from international travel journalists, and thanks in part to this program, 326 online travel articles have been published about the Sunshine Coast so far this year.

Those articles, plus a provincial Ale Trail campaign and a Circle Route campaign drove “an unprecedented amount of visitation”, said Schroeder. The summer is busy but “it’s our job now to help level up those shoulder seasons.” She said: “We don’t shut down in the winter. That’s the message going forward.”

Half of SCT’s 11-member board stands for re-election every two years, so five positions were voted in on Nov. 1. The vote for the representative of Large Accommodation North (Powell River) proved unexpectedly competitive when three people ran and two of them tied. This necessitated a second vote, which was won by Marlane Christensen from The Lund Hotel (Tla’amin Resorts and Accommodations).

Paul Hansen, owner of the West Coast Wilderness Lodge in Egmont, was voted in for Large Accommodation South.

Three other Directors were acclaimed: John Hermsen of Footprint Nature Explorations in Powell River as member at large, North; Linda Williams of the Coast Cultural Alliance as director for arts, culture and heritage; and Theressa Logan of the Sechelt Chamber of Commerce as director of recreation.

Directors continuing for another year were: Martin Prestage, Jack Barr (Powell River Town Centre Hotel), Celia Robben (Arcturus Retreat B&B in Langdale), Jamie Mani (Alpha Adventures in Wilson Creek), Leah MacNeil (Harbour Air), and Christine Hollmann (Terracentric Adventures in Lund).

Donna McMahon

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