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Medicine Hat Tourism Policy

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Medicine Hat Tourism Policy

Municipal Affairs Municipal Policy

Municipal Affairs - Municipal Policy

Issue(s): Should the City of Medicine Hat increase accountability in its use of funds for Tourism Medicine Hat through the formation of a formal Tourism Advisory Board 

Executive Summary

The City of Medicine Hat spends tax dollars in each annual budget through tourism Medicine Hat to promote tourism in our region. Currently these funds are spent through a closed RFP process with a private contractor not developed with direct input from industry. In order to ensure that funds are spent efficiently and with accountability, the Chamber of Commerce supports the creation of a formal Tourism Advisory Board for the City of Medicine Hat. 

Background

The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce provides leadership and advocacy on issues facing our members in the business community. Tourism has long been recognized as a priority for our Chamber and, as a former contract manager in partnership with the City of Medicine Hat, we have some unique insight into helping identify challenges and recommending solutions to help best serve our members. 

The city of Medicine Hat currently creates a contract with a tourism contractor for the provision of tourism services in Medicine Hat. The stakeholders have no direct input into the priorities of that contract or the best use of resources allocated. 

In addition, under the current framework there is ambiguity when it comes to public funds from other sources. Should Canadian badlands or some other agency move funds into our region there is no transparent or accountable framework in place for the management of those funds; who gets them, who decides how they are best spent, etc.

Analysis

Tourism is an important segment of our local economy and members are concerned that we are not maximizing the return on our investment. In addition, there is no longer any accountability to the stakeholders under the current framework. Currently the stakeholders have no input into the contract to run Tourism Medicine Hat and the contractor has no accountability towards those stakeholders - only to their contract with the City of Medicine Hat. 

As a result there is concern that the investment is being targeted without the oversight or accountability to the industry it is meant to assist. There is concern that a disconnect exists between perceived needs and actual needs and business members feel a frustration with the current situation. 

The City of Medicine Hat has developed a Tourism Industry Group which meets once per month with city administration and the Tourism contractor. Members of this group come from a very diverse background with regards to tourism in our industry. While the group has had some positive dialogue it still suffers from the fact that it has no mandate or authority. It has been made clear that the Tourism contractor is not accountable to this group.

Recommendation

The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce supports the formation of a proper tourism advisory board or society, to be mandated with the oversight of all public or grant funds to be spent on tourism in our region. Rather than have city administration craft a proposal in future we would turn to the expertise and oversight from industry to decide on the priority of available public dollars. This independent organization would be accountable to its Tourism industry members. This would allow city and industry oversight, a framework of accountability and an organization prepared to apply for and manage funds from all other sources. 


Date Approved: March 17, 2010
Date Completed: 2013

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