Friday, January 13, 2012

A Case For Tourism Langley

When I was a police officer people judged our effectiveness by whether crime was up or down. The problem with this indicator are many fold. Can you measure how much crime was deterred by the police and their proactive patrols? What about that single arrest that I made which solved 265 other crimes and recovered some stolen property? Do you count this as good or bad?

Sorry to use crime as an analogy, but several people oppose Tourism Langley because of the Hotel Tax, which some think is criminal. I know that Wally Martin's objections to Tourism Langley began because of our 2% municipal Hotel Tax. The levy is on all accommodations that cost more than $30, excluding tents and accommodations on trains or boats during a journey. Wally owns a 6 room B&B in Murrayville and felt his accommodations should be exempt. I tend to agree with him when it comes to small B&B's.

I recently went to Victoria on business. Their Hotel Tax is 8%, plus another 2% Municipal Tax, plus HST. What would Langley hoteliers say about a 10% tax instead of 2%? What about those 28% Hotel Taxes in the USA and overseas?

Just like economic development, parks & recreation and a host of other community jewels, someone has to be there to fly the flag and promote tourism. BUT, Tourism Langley does much more than this. I know that over the past few years, Tourism Langley staff have taken courses on how to prepare bid documents for large events, like the BC Summer Games, the BC Senior Games and others. Staff of Tourism Langley then went out and helped various groups "bid" for these large-scale events.

Special events like the BC Summer Games and BC Senior Games bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars to our local economy and include hotel rooms, restaurant meals, local shopping and much more. Are these dollars contained in the stats for Tourism Langley? NO, they are not.

Can Tourism Langley capture in their stats everyone who accessed their website and came to Langley as a result of what they saw? What about the series of very professional brochures covering Art, Local Wines, Food, Agriculture, Heritage and much more. Do we know how many tourists and how much money came to Langley because of these excellent publications? NO, we do not.

When Tourism Langley's series of brochures came out, I learned much about Langley that I had not previously known. It caused me to visit some places in the community and spend some money. Are these local trips, spending and weekly "Fresh Sheet" promotional success accounted for in Tourism Langley's reports? No.

If one visits the Tourism Langley's Visitor Centre on the perimeter of our Langley Event's Centre, you will be greeted by Langley branded clothing, gifts, books, maps, local products and more. It's an awesome place for visitors to explore.

I say Tourism Langley is a hub for all things Langley. Whether on the website or at the Visitor Centre, we need Tourism Langley to promote, cheer and point the way to visiting Langley and all that our community has to offer. We never know how many people will be reached with our message, nor how much dollars will be injected into our local economy. Sometimes the value is found beyond the statistics. Tourism Langley helps provide the ENDLESS CHOICES that Langley offers to the world.

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