By Vivian Collings
A tax incentive for Ontarians travelling locally should prove to be beneficial to Haliburton County’s tourism.
The Staycation Tax Credit allows Ontario residents to claim up to 20 per cent on accommodation expenses when traveling within the province on their personal Income Tax and Benefit Return for 2022. This opportunity is meant to encourage Ontarians to travel in the province to help boost tourism sectors that may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Any Ontario resident is eligible to claim the credit until Dec. 31, 2022. Expenses that can be claimed are stays at hotels, motels, resorts, lodges, bed-and-breakfast establishments, cottages, campgrounds, and vacation rental properties.
The Government of Ontario website says, “The credit will provide an estimated $270 million in support to about 1.85 million Ontario families.”
The Staycation Tax Credit is expected to benefit both visitors of Haliburton County as well as businesses across all tourism and hospitality sectors.
Thom Lambert, content creator for the County of Haliburton’s Economic Development and Tourism Department, said, “It benefits any tourism operator in the county for a couple of reasons. First, folks are more likely to plan a trip, or extend the length of a trip, because of a tax credit. Once visitors are ‘on the ground’ in the county, they are going to be looking for compelling food and drink experiences as well as outdoor adventure and cultural experiences. Second, if folks already had a trip booked, they are likely to spend the extra 20 per cent on having more experiences.”
Tracie Bertrand, manager of tourism for the County of Haliburton, said, “To visitors, this means they feel ‘added value’ to staying in Ontario. They now have a chance to afford traveling and staying in their own province.”
Lambert believes that although there is no empirical evidence of a higher influx of visitors in the county this spring compared to others, he expects that accommodators will be at close to full capacity this summer.
“The last two tourist seasons in the Haliburton Highlands have been record breaking in many ways. Hotels, motels, cottage rentals, and cottage occupations have been at incredibly high levels. The perception that we have been a safe destination to isolate away from the GTA has driven a huge amount of traffic to our area,” Lambert said.
Although the Staycation Tax Credit proves to benefit most, it may not benefit all businesses.
Linda Coneybeare, travel consultant with Transat Travel, said, “With the price of gas, a spring/summer vacation at an Ontario destination is not what my clients are looking for. They would prefer to travel to Europe in summer and south for the winter.”
Coneybeare said that she would have liked to see the travel credit extended to places beyond Ontario to help airlines and travel agencies recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and past travel restrictions.
More information about the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit can be found at www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-staycation-tax-credit.