Langley City may go it alone on tourism

A contentious vote prompts the City to consider its options.

Langley City is looking at creating its own tourism promotion agency as controversy over Tourism Langley continues.

“The City will explore its options regarding the provision of tourism service for the City which could include the creation of a new tourism service delivery model and service provider,” Mayor Ted Schaffer said in a statement Friday.

On Thursday night, Tourism Langley narrowly avoided ending itself. The agency’s board had put forward a motion to dissolve the agency, following a months-long wrangle with Langley Township over changes to governance and financial reporting.

Tourism Langley is shared by both City and Township, and is operated at arms length, using taxes collected from local hotels and some funding from the two municipalities.

Langley Township had spent part of 2016 considering whether to create its own tourism agency with no City involvement. It ultimately decided against that course of action.

But Tourism Langley board chair Teri James said that “17 weeks of uncertainty” in the latter half of last year had halted many of Tourism Langley’s programs.

Its executive director and marketing director both resigned, leaving it with one staff member.

That led to Thursday’s vote. More than half of the voting members were in favour of dissolution, but James said a three-quarters majority was needed to wrap up Tourism Langley.

Worries that division will continue to affect Tourism Langley prompted the City’s announcement Thursday.

Langley City’s Coun. Gayle Martin said the City still supports an arms-length governance structure for local tourism promotion.

“It is through this separation that decisions can be made that benefit the entire tourism industry in Langley,” Martin said in a statement.

Tourism Langley is funded by a two per cent tax on hotels and motels.

Although Langley City is less than one quarter the size of the Township, $135,000 is collected from City hotels compared to $315,000 from Township accommodations. Separating the agencies would leave the City with one third of local tax revenue for its agency.