Accommodation sector loses $534 million over pandemic
Banff’s accommodation sector lost $534 million in revenue over the two-year COVID pandemic.
Council received a briefing on accommodation sector metrics, as one of the key indicators of the financial health of our community is the health of the accommodation sector.
The biggest estimated monthly loss happened in July 2020 when the actual revenues were over $50 million below pre-pandemic July 2019 levels.
In 2020, January and February were trending very near 2019 levels before the pandemic hit mid-March. Occupancy then plummeted to near 0% for April and May before partially rebounding for the remainder of 2020. Average occupancy for June-December 2020 was approximately 50% of the occupancy for the same period in 2019. Occupancy in 2021 continued to recover however the average level of occupancy for the year was only 58% that of 2019 occupancy. By March 2022, occupancy levels started to trend very near 2019 levels and for the year, recovered to 94% of 2019 levels.
This type of report will be provided to council on a quarterly basis to monitor the financial health of the community, which relies solely on tourism for the economy.
Credit cards could be accepted as business license payment
Council is looking at options to accept credit card payments for business licenses under $5,000 in value. Right now, only cheque, debit, and cash are accepted for these payments. Credit cards have not been used in the past because of the transaction fees incurred by the Town.
Council is now looking at ways to improve customer service and decrease administrative processing time for business licenses by accepting credit card payments.
Some of these options include increasing Schedule A business license fees by a uniform amount to cover credit card transaction costs. This would increase a business license fee by approximately $20. Alternatively, the fee could be prorated so that the cost impact is relative to the licence fee.
Council is also looking for more information on assigning credit card transaction fees to users paying by credit card. Details will be sought form the town’s payment processor, Moneris, on how this could work for the organization.
Administration will return with a report with further details on each option to the Governance and Finance Committee later in 2023 with recommended changes to the Payment Acceptance Policy and associated fee schedules.