Council approved a draft by-law that defines the scope of the county’s new destination marketing organization to oversee marketing, promotions and visitor services in Prince Edward County.
Councilors pointed out that the bylaw should include that the DMO hold open public meetings with agendas. He also decided to keep the inaugural board small, at six members from the public, would allow him to move smoothly, until the board decides to add more members.
Ahead of Thursday night’s special meeting, the board also met behind closed doors, deciding on a memorandum of understanding with Stay PEC that it would be a stand-alone DMO eligible for lodging tax funding. municipal until December 31, 2024, to allow time to negotiate an integration with the new DMO Visit the county.
Local group Stay PEC (formerly Prince Edward County Accommodation Association) was not in favor of a municipally-led DMO and last fall expected a multi-year collaborative agreement to be DMO, as the only county eligible tourism entity entitled to a portion of the doormat. Its current members represent 20 large accommodations (including Waring House, The Drake, Huff Estates, June Motel, Picton Harbor Inn, Sandbanks Vacations, The Eddie) and smaller member-focused accommodations.
A proposed memorandum of understanding with Stay PEC offered in December was rejected. It offered a one-time payment of $100,000 and no other MAT funding. The organization said it collected this amount per year and deserved this amount per year.
The new memorandum of understanding is to be finalized at the May 24 board meeting.
The Council also directed the Clerk’s Office to coordinate the recruitment of a skills-based council with consideration for the diversity of the sector and to convene a meeting of the nominating committee.
A request that tourism be managed in a way that protects and promotes the county’s natural and cultural heritage, and the fragile nature of the environment, was made by Cheryl Anderson in a delegation on behalf of the South Shore Joint Initiative, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory.
The groups are looking for all council members to demonstrate the importance of natural heritage, and “at least one council member is someone who grew up in the county and has a deeper understanding of all that is in it.” and the rapid changes it brings about. by.”
She notes that the county’s long, undeveloped shorelines, coastal and inland wetlands, rural landscapes, woodlands, and vast biodiversity attract visitors to PEC, but also represent habitats and ecosystems that support natural infrastructure, mitigating the effects of climate change.
“Our landscape, however, is under attack – our tree cover makes up less than 30% of the land area – rated as a ‘C’ or acceptable grade in Quinte Conservation’s 2018 Watershed Scorecard. Similarly, the report deems our surface waters as fair.The ecosystem of PEC is fragile.
The new DMO, led by the tourism industry, must manage its half of the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) funds received in accordance with provincial regulations which state that half of the MAT collected must be spent on the marketing of destination. The remaining half is managed by the municipality and is intended to support tourism, but also to provide benefits to residents, such as parks, boat ramps, trails, and tourism management efforts.
Since 2014, the municipality has acted as the DMO managing the “Visit The County” brand and providing visitor services, funded by the municipal budget supported by taxes.
MAT is a four percent tax imposed on visitors who have rented overnight accommodation. A report to the board in March noted that the year of MAT collection raised more than $1 million.
The draft by-law will be submitted to the council meeting of May 24 for final approval.
Thereafter, nominations for the Board of Directors will be presented to the Nominating Committee for consideration and the first DMO will be appointed by the Board. The following counsel will be appointed by the DMO. The board will establish its draft bylaws and policies and create its budget with funds from MAT 2021.
Rebecca Lamb, the county’s destination development and marketing co-ordinator, in her report to the council, noted that several partner organizations and associations have participated in recent information sessions – including the Chamber of Commerce, the Vintners’ Association of PEC, Stay PEC, The Bed & Breakfasts of PEC and approved short-term hosts.
Surveys were also made available online for residents and people near tourism – “people who live, work and play in PEC” – with more than 400 responses collected. Half of these responses were from people indicating that they were direct stakeholders in the tourism sector, of this half, almost 70% identified as being part of the accommodation sub-sector.
Lamb added that the overall goal is to move tourism forward in a positive way.
“While many stakeholders were eager to ask questions or provide insight into decisions related to the budget, strategy, marketing plans, regulations, policies, staffing and partnerships of the new DMO, these were not included in these early stages of consultation,” Lamb said in his report. “These details will be informed by the Inaugural Board who will work with their staff to conduct additional stakeholder engagement at a later date.”