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Penticton council grills tourism association over taxpayer dollars

Operations director Tim Hodgkinson of the Penticton Hospitality Association (middle) defended the PHA from Coun. John Vassilaki (monitor). Hodgkinson was flanked by secretary-treasurer Marko Crucnik and PHA president Robert Appelman at Penticton council Monday night.
May 08, 2013 - 11:11 AM

City leadership held Penticton Hospitality Association's feet to the fire at Monday's council meeting.

For an hour association president Robert Appelman, operations director Tim Hodgkinson and secretary-treasurer Marko Crucnik were grilled by council. They wanted to know how the association is spending taxpayer dollars for the purpose of external marketing of the city.

Hodgkinson took most of the heat from council, especially from Coun. John Vassilaki. The councillor said he's been against the PHA from the start and accused the association of "hoarding" $424,357, which was money collected last year from Penticton's two per cent hotel room tax.

"You are not doing anything with it," Vassilaki said.

Coun. Judy Sentes echoed his statement. "We can't afford to lose two seasons. This money doesn't do any good sitting in a bank account."

Hodgkinson said the association has budgeted $315,000 for a 2013 marketing plan and $150,000 has already been earmarked or spent. The association has also answered funding requests for events, such as Challenge Penticton, that can draw people to the community.

Vassilaki said he appreciated association's presence at council. He said more communication is needed. "We don't know what you are doing and we are supposed to know."

Hodgkinson said the association has been busy and communication suffered as a result. The association has also achieved a lot from a standing start.

Coun. Wesley Hopkin suggested marketing to non-traditional Penticton tourists, such as the Asian or the Punjabi communities.

Hodgkinson said that's in the works but Penticton cannot ignore the majority of tourist traffic.

"You don't focus your whole budget on a niche market," He said. "You look after the 85 per cent (first) and then you grow that niche market."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at squesnel@infotelnews.ca, call 250-488-3065 or tweet @shannonquesnel1

 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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