Cornwall tourism development corporation weathering pandemic

Cornwall Tourism Development Corporation board chairman Etienne Saint-Aubin. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The head of the Tourism Development Corporation of Cornwall says the local tourism industry has “fared better” than most during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chairman Etienne Saint-Aubin told city council Monday night that local hotel occupancy rates – the main money generator for the corporation – was 48 per cent compared to 65 per cent occupancy in 2019.

“The greater the tourism activity, the better our city’s bottom line,” Saint-Aubin said.

The TDCC gave out $121,270 to 17 tourism projects last year. In 2019, it gave out $141,900 to 19 projects from the half share of money collected with the city’s four per cent bed tax on stays at area hotels and motels. The other half goes to the city’s economic development department.

Saint-Aubin added that some of the money is being set aside for an “anchor tourism” project that hasn’t been decided yet. He didn’t say though how much money was being put in a reserve.

“I think I’m trying to portray, the fund is trying to recognize we need something long term in that regard,” he said.

Asked by Coun. Todd Bennett whether there was money not spent last year due to cancelled events, Saint-Aubin says yes and there is a “good reserve of funds” and “in excess of $250,000” that could be spent on new tourism projects.

Coun. Claude McIntosh says the committee has “gone beyond expectations” than what he envisioned when the bed tax started in June 2018.

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