Axed program to hurt tourism

In recent weeks, there’s been a lot of discussion about the various programs that either have been either cut or cancelled by the minority Conservative government.
One program cancellation that’s not received much attention is the GST Visitor Rebate Program, but this program cut will have drastic implications for our region.
The GST Visitor Rebate Program provided a refund of the GST paid on goods purchased by non-residents in Canada for use outside of Canada. It also provided a refund for GST paid on accommodations over $50.
Let’s put this information into a more understandable format. John and Joan Smith from Minneapolis bring their family to Fort Frances for a 10-day vacation.
During that time, they stay at a hotel costing $80 per night ($80 x 10=$800) and they shop at many local retailers purchasing new school clothes for their two children ($300), new golf clubs for Mrs. Smith ($800), and a new canoe for the family ($1,000).
These purchases totalling $2,900 would be eligible for a refund of the GST paid, or roughly $170.
This saving is in addition to the money that’s saved due to the difference of value in our currency, and basically is an automatic six percent off sale for our American guests.
Clearly, the cancellation of this program will be yet another disincentive for U.S. tourists to venture north of their borders, and it comes at a time when tourism already is on the decline due to the strength of the Canadian dollar, security and border concerns, and the rising cost of gasoline.
Local tourism associations are speaking out against this direct blow to their businesses.
“We are dismayed by the government’s apparent lack of concern and support for the entire lodging, travel, and tourism sector,” says the North Western Ontario Tourism Association (NWOTA).
I stand with these businesses and will speak out loud and clear against this program cut.

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