VANCOUVER – The B.C. Liberals' sudden decision to eliminate Tourism B.C. has left the industry reeling just as it struggles to deal with the blow from the government's HST betrayal, the New Democrats said today.
“If the B.C. Liberals wanted to axe Tourism B.C., they should have been up front about that during the election campaign,” said Spencer Herbert , New Democrat tourism critic. “The industry is already struggling to deal with the government's HST betrayal, which will hit many tourism businesses hard just as they are trying to emerge from the economic downturn.”
Herbert noted that Tourism B.C. is funded by revenue from the Hotel Room Tax, which will be phased out as the HST is brought in next year. This performance-based funding, which is established by law, has been touted as one of the reasons for Tourism B.C.'s success.
“The tourism industry will still be paying taxes through the ill-conceived HST,” said Herbert. “But there is no longer any assurance that money will be used to market British Columbia to the world.
Herbert said if the B.C. Liberals are eliminating Tourism B.C. simply to cover up an oversight created by their HST deception, then they should come clean and explain that to the industry.
“Tourism businesses are already going to be hit hard by this new tax next year as well as the B.C. Liberals' 40 per cent cut to the tourism ministry over the next three years imposed in the February budget,” said Herbert. “And Gordon Campbell's post-election budget will likely contain even more deep cuts.”
Herbert noted that cutting Tourism B.C. is just the latest betrayal by Gordon Campbell, who during the election held a lavish photo-op for a new Tourism B.C. centre at the Canada-US border.
“It seems that Tourism BC is just the latest victim of the B.C. Liberals' pre-election budget lie,” said Herbert. “Gordon Campbell repeatedly told British Columbians the budget deficit would only be $495 million long after the rest of the province knew the claim was false. Now that the election is over, the B.C. Liberals can no longer hide behind their misleading budget promises.”
Herbert noted that even Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger has admitted that “there are exceptions” and many tourism businesses will be hurt by the HST.
Carole James and the New Democrats have launched a petition to stop the HST at www.StoptheHST.ca.
Under the Campbell government, B.C. has had the worst rate of full-time job losses, the second-worst performing economy, and highest level of child poverty in the country.