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Lousy tourist season provides less money to attract tourists

'At this pace, I don't think it looks very healthy for us for 2021'
08-30-2020 Batchawana Bay 6
File photo

A COVID-ravaged winter means less cash to attract fall tourism visitors to Sault Ste. Marie, assuming pandemic lockdowns have eased by then.

In January 2019, Sault Ste. Marie introduced a four per cent municipal accommodation tax (MAT) on all accommodations less than 30 consecutive days at hotels, motels, motor hotels, lodges, inns, resorts, bed and breakfasts or any other place accommodation is provided.

The charge applies only to accommodation charges, not to meals or room incidentals, so long as those amounts are itemized separately on the invoice.

Cash raised through the MAT supports a local tourism development fund used to develop quality tourism products and events, and to encourage private-sector tourism investments.

At last week's meeting of the board of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, Travis Anderson, the city's director of tourism and community development, announced that February 2021 MAT collections totalled $29,161.

"The collection for 2021, year-to-date, is roughly half of what it was in 2020," said board chair Joe Bisceglia.

"At this pace, I don't think it looks very healthy for us for 2021, in terms of the funding of tourism activities. Hopefully, things will pick up later on."

On the positive side, tickets for this fall's running of the Agawa Canyon Tour Train are still being sold online, with a meeting expected this month with Watco, the Pittsburg, Kansas-based new owner.

– SooToday