November 08, 2013 - 5:01 PM
CITY COUNCIL, PENTICTON HOSPITALITY ASSOCIATION AT ODDS OVER MARKETING MONEY
PENTICTON - Two big groups who are supposed to be marketing Penticton are instead arguing on how to do it which has caused no small frustration for city council.
Chief financial officer Colin Fisher confirmed the city has so far spent about $21,000 in legal fees to solve its problems with the Penticton Hospitality Association. Council has asked the association to hand over control of a two per cent hotel room tax, which collects about $400,000 annually to Tourism Penticton.
Association president Rob Appelman said his group is doing a good job in external marketing and attracting tourists from outside the province. City leadership claims otherwise and stated the association has sat on its hands and on some of the marketing money in 2012.
Calls made to the Penticton Hospitality Association were not returned by the time this story was published.
Councillors John Vassilaki and Andrew Jakubeit said the situation is frustrating.
"City council is complaining they are not following the rules and regulations set in place by the provincial government," Vassilaki said. "We had to do what we did."
What they did was seek legal advice and order the association to give Tourism Penticton the funding.
Coun. Judy Sentes said the city has not acted lightly.
"We have exhausted every form of communication including mediation," she said to try and come to an arrangement over differences with no success.
Vassilaki would like to see just one tourism group promoting Penticton to the outside world. Tourism Penticton and the association have been around for decades but he and others have said there should be only one such marketer.
"No one wants to play nice in the sandbox," Jakubeit said. There was discussion of having Tourism Penticton working with the association. Tourism Penticton would run the marketing and charge the association a fee for the service but this never got off the ground.
"We have a paper trail a mile long in terms of trying to get information out of them and ensure they (the association) are following some sort of strategy," Jakubeit said. "We are sort of forced to ensure that money, taxpayer money, is getting spent on what was the intention, on external marketing. It's frustrating and you can argue it's gotten worse and in the meantime we are.. marketing on a shoe string budget."
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