[SUMMERSIDE, PE] – The Island's tourism minister empathizes with accommodations operators over increased licensing fees, but says the fees are necessary to build a strong industry.
Faced with a sagging tourism season, some operators say they will not pay the increased fees.
Tourism Minister Robert Henderson says the Quality Tourism Services (QTS), a non-profit body established by the tourism industry to set standards, and the reason behind the increase, is an integral part of ensuring a strong and competitive tourism industry, but did admit some owners don't see it that way.
"That's a business decision people will have to make," Henderson says. "I'm obligated to comply, and all businesses are obligated to comply, with the Tourism Industry Act which says anybody that's providing accommodations has to be licensed."
The minister says the province is dealing with businesses that aren't licensed.
"When we get calls our staff are directed to make sure these businesses do comply," he says. "We've shut down businesses this year already. There was an illegal campground in the Brackley area that opened up and had illegal signs as well as wasn't a registered accommodation location. We shut them down."
He says it's a choice every business has to make.
Henderson says he does understand the difficulties the industry is facing, but that standards are required to ensure quality.
"I'm empathetic to the issues that many tourism operators face in the cost of doing business, but it's very important that standards be met," he says. "We're trying to make an industry here that's adapted into the future. It comes with licencing and it comes with standards that reflect what the visitors expect when they come to Prince Edward Island."
Henderson says the Canada Select System has been chosen as the model to follow as a rating system and is recognized all across Canada.