Surrey Business News


Sur­rey Board of Trade Calls for Mod­ern­ized GST Re­bate Pro­gram to In­crease Tourism In­dus­try

- Business · Taxes · Canada News · Travel · Tourism · U.S. government · Japan · Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development · Surrey · Retail Council of Canada

The Sur­rey Board of Trade is call­ing on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to seize an op­por­tu­nity to strengthen Canada’s tourism in­dus­try. By rein­tro­duc­ing a stream­lined visi­tor re­bate pro­gram, this al­lows vis­i­tors to be ex­empt from a sales tax on pur­chases above a cer­tain amount as long as they present their pass­port, Nexus, or Driver’s Li­cense at point of pur­chase.

In a re­cent po­si­tion pa­per com­posed by the Sur­rey

Board of Trade and its

Tourism, Arts & Cul­ture Team, they are fur­ther call­ing for the elim­i­na­tion of GST for tourism-re­lated ho­tel stays and restau­rant vis­its, for pur­chases above a cer­tain amount.

In the 1990s, the Visi­tor

Re­bate Pro­gram al­lowed vis­i­tors in Canada to re­ceive a sales tax re­bate on items pur­chased dur­ing their trav­els, in­clud­ing goods bought to take home and money spent on short-term ac­com­mo­da­tion. The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment phased out the pro­gram in 2007, cit­ing ex­ces­sive costs and un­der­uti­liza­tion.

How­ever, a re­cent re­port from the Re­tail Coun­cil of Canada shows that the pro­gram’s can­cel­la­tion has re­sulted in a GDP loss of nearly $6 bil­lion. By rein­tro­duc­ing a mod­ern­ized visi­tor re­bate pro­gram, the de­mand for tourism could in­crease by $595.7 mil­lion per year.

“Tourism equals jobs,” said Anita Hu­ber­man, CEO, Sur­rey Board of Trade. “The tourism in­dus­try is a sig­nif­i­cant part of Canada’s econ­omy.” In­ter­na­tional tourism is a highly com­pet­i­tive busi­ness and gov­ern­ments in other coun­tries have taken steps to en­hance the visi­tor ex­pe­ri­ence where Canada has not.

Many other coun­tries use re­bate pro­grams that in­crease the amount of money spent within the coun­try. If a shop owner does not have to pro­vide GST to the gov­ern­ment, more money can be spent at the es­tab­lish­ment. Tourists have a strict bud­get. For ex­am­ple, since im­ple­ment­ing a new on-site visi­tor sales tax ex­emp­tion, Ja­pan’s tourism ex­ports have more than dou­bled in just 4 years. While al­most all OECD coun­tries have en­joyed an in­crease in tourism ex­ports over the last decade, Canada ranks 32 out of 36 for growth, while Ja­pan ranks third.

The Sur­rey Board of Trade will be en­gag­ing with the new Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and Canada’s new Tourism Min­is­ter to re­in­state the re­bate pro­gram.

To view the pol­icy sub­mis­sion: businessin­­icy/tac

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