TSL wants accommodation tax in all Lambton municipalities

Victoria Playhouse Petrolia .

Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative

After two tough pandemic years, Tourism Sarnia-Lambton is looking for ways to support the industry and draw people back to Lambton County.

Officials are hoping more municipalities will pass an accommodation tax to help the industry recover from COVID-19.

“We dug deep,” said Mark Perrin, executive director of Tourism Sarnia-Lambton at the organization’s annual general meeting on Sept. 28. The travel industry adapted to the pandemic with virtual or drive through events.

But Perrin says TSL needs more cash to help continue the recovery. Sarnia and Port Edward are currently the only two municipalities in the county with the accommodation tax. Perrin is hopeful it will be implemented in Lambton Shores in 2023, but this will depend on the upcoming municipal election. 

Perrin also wants municipalities to include Air BnBs in the accommodation tax. It is estimated there are 350 short term rentals in Lambton Shores alone.

Perrin said it is working with the rest of the county to see further accommodation taxes in the other municipalities. He noted this is not coming from the tax base in Lambton County, as the visitors are being taxed on their hotel stays. It is estimated approximately $300,000 will be brought in through the accommodation tax. The tax was implemented in Sarnia and Point
Edward in 2020 so TSL hasn’t had a good gauge of how much revenue could be generated in a non-pandemic year.

Tourism Sarnia-Lambton says the money received from the accommodation tax in 2021 brought in a replica of Theodore Tugboat  which attracted about 12,000 people to Sarnia and Mooretown.

Tourism Sarnia-Lambton will continue its popular gift card program. It has sold $350,000 from its gift card program, which included 200 businesses. It hopes to top $500,000 by the end of the year. The Support Local Program was also launched during the pandemic to promote restaurants and it is the largest listing in the Lambton County. A welcome back video campaign will be launched in November to encourage visitors to return to Lambton County. 

Ontario’s tourism industry brings in $38 billion annually and has 400,000. Sarnia-Lambton’s tourism industry brings in $200 million and ranks third largest in southwestern Ontario behind London and Windsor.

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