Province cuts $3.4M from Ottawa Tourism
Organization says the money accounts for 15% of its budget
Ottawa Tourism says the province's $3.4 million cut to their budget is "significant" and will force them to modify their programs in the upcoming year.
Michael Crockatt, the president of Ottawa Tourism, said it's 15 per cent of the organization's budget.
"There's a few things, for sure that, we will have to defer to future years," Crockatt said.
"There's a lot of things that we have to consider in terms of our overall structure, cost structure and and the programs that we're putting in place. There's something that we intended to do this year and we just won't be able to do."
Crockatt said he wouldn't comment on possible job losses, but said the organization will be putting off a planned logo redesign.
He said the provincial funding also paid for Ottawa Tourism's work promoting and developing destinations in the United Counties of Prescott-Russell, which will no longer be part of its core mandate.
It's now getting no money from the province.
Change in focus?
The majority of the organization's funding comes from within Ottawa — 73 per cent from the municipal accommodation tax and the rest from a combination of municipal grants and other private partnerships.
"Our expectation was there might be some cutbacks; we were surprised there were actually cutouts, meaning a 100 per cent cut," said Steve Ball, president of the Ottawa-Gatineau Hotel Association.
Ball said Ottawa Tourism will need to review its spending so it focuses on municipal priorities, since that's where the majority of the organizations funding will come from.
He said perhaps spending to promote the provincially-owned Shaw Centre might need to be reviewed along other items.
"It's a pay-as-you-play world, if it's primarily municipally-driven, we'll focus on municipal expenditures first."
Ball said he understands the province is trying to tame a $15 billion deficit. He said the local tourism industry is looking forward to Ontario's new tourism strategy.
Tourism Toronto also lost $9.5 miilion in funding in the same round of cuts as Ottawa, leading the opposition NDP to call the decision "short-sighted" because investing in tourism makes the province money.
A spokesperson for the minister of tourism, culture and sport said the government's new tourism strategy will be rolled out in the coming months.
"We are taking real action to boost Ontario's tourism sector and will ensure value for money in our tourism investments, so we can do what's right for the people of Ontario," Brett Weltman said in a written statement.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who headed the Canadian Tourism Commission from 2000 to 2003, offered Ottawa Tourism some reassurance.
"These cuts will certainly affect Ottawa Tourism's ability to grow this important sector of our economy going forward," Watson said.
"Thankfully, Ottawa Tourism can count on a strong municipal accommodation tax funding model, in partnership with the city and local hotels. This reliable funding ensures that Ottawa Tourism can continue to deliver successful sales, marketing and destination development initiatives."
With files from the Canadian Press