The further extension of the abatement of the tourism levy will continue to assist hotels and other lodging providers in trying times.
Last week, the government announced the companies will continue to keep the tourism levy they collect until the end of June. It had previously been extended to the end of May.
"It's great news for the hospitality industry," says Miranda Rosin, Banff-Kananaskis MLA. "The tourism levy abatement was initially supposed to run from March 2020 to the end of the year, and then we heard from hoteliers from all across the province about how helpful this money had been for their liquidity and to help them keep the money in their pockets when they needed it most at a time when the hospitality industry had really been decimated as a result of COVID-19."
In the first 13 months, the Alberta Government estimates it has freed up $36 million.
Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin's riding is heavily dependent on the tourism industry and says it has provided extra cash for the industry to stay afloat.
"This extra month of abatement, I know it's going to help them so much more," she says.
It also comes at a time when moteliers are facing the one-two punch of occupancy in the single digits and the high cost of keeping both their staff and guests safe.
"As recent as a month ago, some hotels in my constituency had seen occupancy rates between two to five per cent, so way down compared to the near 100 per cent they would normally see. Of course, we are expecting that to pick up significantly this summer, but that doesn't negate the fact that it has been a very difficult year for them. Not only have they've lacked busy, but they've also had extra costs on top of the little business."
The Alberta Government estimates the extension of the abatement period will free up an additional $8 million in cash flow for the sector.
Short-term rental hosts that list their properties on online marketplaces, like Airbnb and Vrbo, and began collecting the tourism levy on Apr. 1 will also be eligible to keep tourism levy amounts collected during the latest three-month abatement period.
Hotels, short-term rental hosts, and other lodging providers that have already remitted tourism levy amounts collected on or after April 1 will receive a refund from Alberta’s Tax and Revenue Administration.
Businesses are still required to file returns and will be expected to resume regular tourism levy payments on amounts collected on or after July 1.