Province reserves more cash to help hotels, motels and inns with pandemic effects

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Hotels in Halifax have faced a difficult year as a result of COVID-19 cutting in on travel. (Craig Paisley/CBC - image credit)
Hotels in Halifax have faced a difficult year as a result of COVID-19 cutting in on travel. (Craig Paisley/CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government is providing more funding to help battered hotels, motels and inns try to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province announced a $7.3-million program on Friday to provide operators a 50 per cent rebate on payment of the first six months of their 2021-22 commercial property tax.

Finance Minister Labi Kousoulis said the announcement reflects the ongoing "significant" drop in business that people in the industry are facing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to curtail business and social travel.

"The expenses are still there," he said in an interview. "Because they're operating at a much reduced capacity they still have much of their staff on hand, but they just don't have the revenues coming."

Rebate 'will help us survive'

While there are some people staying in hotels, Kousoulis said that's been offset by price cuts in an effort to attract more business.

"They're taking a big hit," he said.

In a statement, Jeff Ransome, general manager of the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront, welcomed the news.

"The rebate program announced today will help us survive. It's that important to our industry."

Friday's announcement follows an earlier program that provided a 25 per cent rebate on payment of 2020-21 commercial property taxes. According to the province, 252 applicants have received a total of $6.7 million from that program.

More help could come

People who qualified for the first round of funding are automatically eligible for the sound round. And as with the previous instance, this money can be put toward any aspect of an operator's business.

Kousoulis said the government received good feedback from the first round, in part because of how smooth the application process was and how quickly the money went out. It made sense then, he said, to use a similar approach, and he said the government would continue to be there for operators if that's what's required.

"If we don't see a rebound that we expect this summer, I'm more than happy to help them with some cash flow again."

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