I’m one of the few that still has a landline in my house but only as back up for my security system. Even so, when the home phone rings most evenings, I tend to ignore it because when I do pick it up it’s usually a charity of some sort asking for money. Because they all appear to be legitimate causes and deserving of support, I have a hard time saying no.
I imagine governments face a similar dilemma each day over what to support given the volume of requests and the growing needs of constituents. I recently heard a bureaucrat say that no matter the purpose, virtually every meeting with a stakeholder starts or ends with a request for money. As you might expect, typically the first answer is ‘no’ unless or until the long due diligence process is complete, part of which revolves around the amount of funding required, desired outcomes/benefits, and how the investment fits with broader government priorities.
To be sure, advocacy associations like TIABC most often seek policy changes as opposed to money but we also reach out to decision-makers regularly with cap in hand to request financial assistance for the tourism sector.
Case in point, last week’s Provincial & Territorial Tourism Industry Association meeting with federal Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault (who doubles as Associate Minister of Finance) in Quebec City was largely about additional government funding for tourism, particularly in the context of the impending new Federal Tourism Growth Strategy, which surprisingly won’t include new monies for our industry beyond what was committed in this year’s budget.
The fact is much of what the visitor economy requires from government comes down to money, especially as we endeavour to stabilize and grow our industry post-pandemic. Hence the reason that each May/June, TIABC and many of its sector partners pitch the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services for resources to be included in next year’s provincial budget.
Although my travel schedule prevented me from appearing before the committee in person last week, TIABC is in the process of submitting three core recommendations (as per the limit) as part of the public consultation process. Like previous years, we’re seeking a commitment by government on emergency funding for the regional tourism management organizations that would sustain ongoing efforts to prepare for, respond to, mitigate, and recover from various crises.
We’re also asking government to consider long-term, permanent funding for destination development, akin to the previous three-year, $45 million funding commitment the province made to our industry, which expires at the end of this fiscal.
You may recall that in our submission last year, TIABC recommended expanding the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) to help additional tourism-reliant communities with capital projects, repairs and other opportunities. This year, destination development essentially replaces the RMI request but the other two priorities remain the same.
It’s important to note that in spite of its name, the Standing Committee also accepts policy recommendations. Yet again, TIABC’s third priority revolves around the strength of the Municipal & Regional District Tax (MRDT) program and the need to retain it for tourism marketing, projects and programs. In other words, leave well enough alone.
In 2022, the committee’s final report noted TIABC’s recommendation to protect MRDT for its original intended purpose. Given concerns expressed by DMOs about the integrity of the program, TIABC’s Policy Committee agreed MRDT was a given to be included in our top three. We’ll see where we land when the committee produces its final report in late summer.
I keep putting it off but I suppose one day I should listen to the voicemails that have piled up on the home phone to the point where there is no room for further messages. Perhaps I’ll discover that someone actually wants to give me money as opposed to asking me for it. Wishful thinking I know. In the meantime, probably best to stay the course and ignore the landline when it rings so I don’t go broke.