Yours to Discover?

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"Ontario - Yours to Discover" is the catchy little slogan found on every Ontario vehicle's number plate. I guess it's a promotion designed to encourage people to get out there and discover for themselves many of Ontario's interesting places and scenic beauty.

So I was a tad annoyed when, during our check-out of the Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottawa, I noticed a extra charge that had been itemised on the bill as a "Destination Marketing Fee". I went back to the hotel desk to enquire what this meant, and was informed that the Ontario government collects this fee to fund its local tourism efforts. While I can understand the philosophy behind "user pays", I cannot believe that by staying in a hotel I get charged a fee to fund the governments efforts to encourage me to stay in a hotel! What's even more annoying was that we didn't even stay at the Laurier because it was promoted to us by the Government's tourism efforts - we stayed at the Laurier because we saw it last time we were in Ottawa (it was ours to discover, remember?) and we decided that it looked like a nice place to stay if ever we returned to Ottawa. So not only did we have to fund the tourism effort, but we weren't even there because of the tourism effort!

The DMF is not a huge amount of money ($6.48 per night), but it just strikes me as odd that there should be a fee imposed on hotel guests to fund the effort to encourage you to be a hotel guest in the first place. Surely, any effort to fund tourism should be rewarded simply by the fact that we turned up; we also stayed in the city's most expensive hotel, went on a city tour, ate in several local restaurants, visited local museums, travelled on local public transport, shopped, bought fuel, and so on. The payback for the tourism promotion effort is simply that we turned up and spent our money there... hitting us with an extra "Destination Marketing Fee" is just insulting, and made even more insulting by the fact that this fee is then also taxed as well!! That's right, the DMF also has GST applied to it! Again, its not much ($0.39), but altogether it adds up to $13.78 for the two nights we were there.

The nice girl at the hotel desk explained that the GST amount on the room charge had been lowered to compensate for the DMF and that it worked out to be the same price anyway, but I still don't think that's the point. It's the principle of the thing that irks me. It's a tax on a tax, and an unfair one at that.

Mine to Discover? Sorry Ontario, but your Destination Marketing Fee sucks.

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