By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I love reading your column and thought I would ask you this question. I had a two day stay in a hotel in Kanata just before Christmas. I checked the bill at check-out and it was close to what I expected. I looked at it again when I got home and noticed there was a DMF charge of $3.23. I thought it was a tax, but called the hotel to ask and was told it was a Destination Marketing Fee. The young lady couldn't explain it but said "all the hotels charge it". Do you have any idea what this is? Is there any reason to pay this fee? I would value your opinion.

A: After a few correspondences with a couple of tourism organizations, I was able to get some feedback from Dick Brown, the Executive Director of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association (OGHA). For your interest, here’s a bit of history on the charge. In 2004 hotels in Ottawa, Toronto and Kingston introduced a 3% Destination Marketing Fee (DMF) to generate funds for local tourism promotion agencies such as Ottawa Tourism to allow them to market themselves to potential visitors, tour operators and convention planners.

Mr. Brown notes that since the introduction of the DMF in these cities, the tourism industry in a number of other Ontario cities have introduced or are studying the introduction of a DMF. “The fee is 3% of the room only portion of the guest bill.

This amount is remitted by the participating hotel to be used by Ottawa Tourism to promote Ottawa as a destination. It is not used for hotel marketing,” he says and adds, “This mechanism is very common in Canada as well as internationally.

In Canada, a supplementary hotel tax is in place in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In Ottawa it is not a government imposed tax but it does have support from the Provincial Government. In each of the last two Ontario budgets the province has exempted the DMF from Retail Sales Tax.” So in conclusion, hotel room taxes or fees have become an accepted method for funding destination marketing programs.


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