An open letter to Premier Gordon Campbell regarding the impending introduction of HST and its effect on tourism

Dear Mr. Campbell

There is considerable concern Province-wide regarding the proposal to introduce Harmonised Sales Tax at the rate of 12% from Summer 2010.

This will affect every service industry in BC, as you well know of course.  Here in Revelstoke we have one of the highest ratios of cultural attractions per capita of anywhere in the Province. We have four museums and a visual arts centre, several of them of International standing, in a city of 7,300 inhabitants, and the tourism industry is of paramount importance to the economy of the city. At present museum entrance fees are subject to GST, currently at 5%. The introduction of HST will mean that all museums will have to raise their entrance charges to accommodate the new tax.

At a time of recession, when traditional sources of funding such as the Direct Access Gaming grants are being cut, many of the museums and cultural attractions in BC will be in dire financial straits. It has been estimated that, specifically in Revelstoke, but probably true in other places, every entrant to a museum spends on average $200 in the surrounding community. Since here we have at least 30,000 entrants per year to our museums, that equates to approximately $6m spent in our area per year specifically by museum visitors. The closing of even one cultural attraction here, or a significant fall in the number of visiting tourists, would make a huge difference to the City’s budget. The introduction of this inflationary tax may well result in the closure of one or more.

It has been mentioned in some circles that this Provincial government is not remotely interested in culture, and one can only conclude that there is some truth in the statement, judging by these proposals. Perhaps the ephemeral nature of sport, and its inconsequential outcomes, is considered a higher priority than conserving and preserving the country’s history.

We hope and trust that you will give serious consideration to the overall effect of HST. Perhaps cultural attractions could be added to the list of those exempt from the tax?

Yours sincerely,

David Evans
Revelstoke Museums & Gallery Collective

Representing: Revelstoke City Museum & Archives, Revelstoke Railway Museum, BC Interior Forestry Museum, Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre, Revelstoke Nickelodeon Museum, Rogers Pass National Historic Site and Parks Canada

Copies to: The Revelstoke Current, the Revelstoke Times Review, His Worship, David Raven, Mayor of The City of Revelstoke, Norm Macdonald Esq., MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke, The Hon Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture & The Arts