“Hidden” Fees Crucial To Marketing Efforts: McMillan


Chances are you don’t even notice it but depending where you stay and go on your vacation it can add up.

Destination Marketing Fees are applied to most hotel rooms, including those in Sault Ste. Marie.

“It’s become a standard in the industry” Ian McMillan  ,  Executive Director at Tourism Sault Ste. Marie told SaultOnline.com

Destination Marketing Fee or Tourism Marketing Fees are applied to your room at 3% in Ontario.  The practice was subject of an CBC Marketplace investigation targeting one of Canada’s largest tourist traps Niagara Falls.  The CBC discovered that not only is the fee applied to hotel and motel rooms but also to your meals. That’s not the case in Sault Ste. Marie McMillan pointed out.  The fees are collected locally to help with marketing initiatives explained McMillan but only on hotel rooms.

McMillan said the fees started in an around 2006. “Ontario was one of the last places to apply the fee” McMillan said.  It is very common in Europe and parts of the U.S.  Niagara  Falls Tourism board came under fire on the CBC program because it is seen widely as gouging tourists when the fee is applied to restaurant meals and other attractions. A two day visit to the falls could cost you as much as an extra $38 in fees, that according to the tourism associations are “voluntary” meaning consumers can back out of paying it. Most however do not realize the fee is even there. McMillan says Hotels locally inform their guests of the fee and why its there. “We haven’t run into any problems with guests not paying it” McMillan stresses that the Destination Marketing Fee is crucial to Sault Ste. Marie Tourism to compete with other areas such as Michigan. McMillan said the “room tax” in Michigan is much higher at 5%

McMillan says that without the fee, the Sault wouldn’t have been able to compete for such events like CARHA (Canadian Adult Recreation Hockey Association)  that put the Sault on the map for hosting such events. Other attractions such as the Agawa Canyon Tour Train benefits from the fee. McMillan said the fees will also help the Sault’s bid for the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier.

The fee is collected by the Provincial government as part of the government remittance from tourist outfitters like Hotels. Toursim associations like Tourism Sault Ste. Marie then uses that money to help with tourism marketing that hopes to draw out of town guests to the area.