A new lobby group has been formed in North Bay with the aim of promoting the area's hospitality industry.
It's called the North Bay Accommodation Association, which comes under the umbrella of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA). Comprising hotel members in the North Bay region, the group will represent the hospitality sector at the regional level.
“With the recent implementation of the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) and restructuring of Tourism North Bay, it is essential that all North Bay hoteliers come together with the support of ORHMA, who will influence provincial and municipal government on issues that affect our industry," said the group's chairperson, Wesam Metwalli.
"People have the perception that this is a voluntary program, but now it's the law. It's a tax just like HST, and we're on the frontlines of it. We're the ones communicating to our guests where this four per cent charge is coming from," Metwalli explained to BayToday.
"The hotels don't profit. The tax goes directly to the City of North Bay and Tourism North Bay to be applied toward tourism-related things like marketing and infrastructure which we support. This will help the hotels in occupancy.
"The association will help promote the hospitality industry. We can all share best practices with each other and have a unified form of communication. The Municipal Accommodation Tax was just the motivator to jumpstart this," added Metwalli.
"We look forward to working together as a region to build a foundation for our industry’s success and growth of tourism in North Bay.”
The new board consists of:
- Chair: Wesam Metwalli, CMP, Homewood Suites by Hilton North Bay
- Vice Chair: Paul Enqvist, Best Western North Bay Hotel & Conference Centre
- Secretary/Treasurer: Crystal Thompson, Homewood Suites by Hilton North Bay
- Board Member: Erika Bayliss, Hampton Inn by Hilton
- Board Member: Amit Talreja, Lakeshore Travelodge
- Board Member: Cindy Rivest-Vainio, Best Western North Bay Hotel & Conference Centre
“The development of the North Bay Accommodation Association provides the local hotel community with a unified voice and an opportunity to tackle industry issues at the municipal level," said Tony Elenis, ORHMA president.
The Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association is the largest provincial hospitality association in Canada with over 4,000 members.