BC Gov News

Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation, and the Columbia River Treaty

The City of Vancouver is the first to use a new tool to help communities cover the costs of hosting internationally recognized major tourism events.

Last fall, the city, host of the FIFA World Cup in 2026, asked for a modest temporary increase to the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) on short-term accommodations to help with costs of hosting the matches. In response, the Province introduced changes to the Provincial Sales Tax Act so eligible communities can apply for an additional Major Events MRDT for as much as 2.5% on short-term accommodation sales.

The new tool will help Vancouver cover costs of hosting FIFA 2026. It is available to other local governments to help fund eligible major events with the potential to draw significant international visitation.

“We are thrilled Vancouver is a host city to FIFA 2026 and pleased with the collaboration that has already taken place to help ensure this event is a success,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Finance. “Similar to how the Province helped Whistler fund its 2010 Winter Olympics, we’re grateful for all our partners who are working together to give soccer fans, people in the tourism sector and all British Columbians this once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

The City of Vancouver, Destination Vancouver and the Province, after consultation with the local accommodation sector, have agreed to a Major Events MRDT rate of 2.5% over seven years to help pay for planning, staging and hosting FIFA 2026 matches. Overnight visitors to Vancouver will see an additional $2.50 on each $100 paid on short-term accommodations beginning Feb. 1, 2023. The temporary tax could generate approximately $230 million in revenue over seven years.

“We’re so excited to be hosting the FIFA World Cup 2026, one of the world’s largest sporting events, here in Vancouver,” said Ken Sim, mayor of Vancouver. “Vancouver has welcomed the world on many occasions, but this global celebration of soccer and national pride is an extraordinary opportunity. The economic impacts and benefits to Vancouver will be felt in the leadup to the FIFA World Cup, throughout the event and long after the final whistle blows in 2026.”

The temporary tax on purchases of accommodation is a tool that communities can apply for to provide dedicated, time-limited support for eligible major internationally recognized events that help to significantly bolster international visitation to the province.

“The 2026 World Cup will be the largest single sport event ever and hosting it here in Vancouver provides a platform to promote B.C. globally as a prime destination. This is an amazing opportunity to profile B.C.’s food and beverage producers, and other businesses we are all proud of,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “The Major Events MRDT will remove barriers for communities interested in hosting sporting and other events of international reach, and this will support the tourism sector in the long term.”

Destination BC estimates that the FIFA 2026 opportunity in B.C. could result in an increase of 269,000 visitors, approximately 50% of them from outside Canada and the U.S.

“The exposure that comes with being a host city for the FIFA World Cup strengthens Vancouver’s game in the global competition with other cities for visitors, talent, thought leadership, innovation and investment,” said Royce Chwin, president and CEO, Destination Vancouver. “The Province and city’s investment in an event of this scale is a major step in continuing to build a vibrant and resilient visitor economy – a visitor economy that brings in close to $15 billion annually and supports more than 100,000 jobs.”

FIFA World Cup 2026 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to support the tourism sector, put the global spotlight on British Columbia and inspire the next generation of players. In 2022, approximately 1.5 billion people around the world watched the FIFA World Cup final.

Vancouver is one of 16 host cities across North America. The city is in the early stages of event planning, and the FIFA 2026 budget represents the city’s current estimates. The 2026 budget will continue to be refined as planning progresses, and the city will continue to work with the Province and other agencies to deliver the event cost-effectively.

In March 2022, the Province estimated the total costs of planning, staging and hosting the FIFA World Cup 2026 matches at approximately $240 to $260 million. This included both the City and BC Place Stadium costs. The city’s expected costs were estimated at approximately half of this amount at that time, based on a very preliminary assessment of hosting requirements.

After further analysis of all hosting obligations including initial requirements set by FIFA, several site visits hosted and further operational planning, a more detailed development of the FIFA 2026 budget including recognition of a significant inflation outlook since March 2022, was completed. It was determined that the city’s incremental expenses associated with the FIFA World Cup in 2026 will be approximately $230 million. This includes the planning, staging and hosting of the Cup, but does not include the BC Place Stadium costs.

These estimates are subject to change as details are confirmed throughout the planning process, and further information is received from FIFA. The city and Province will be providing annual public reporting on actual expenditures and the new Additional Major Events MRDT revenues.

In hosting the FIFA World Cup 2026, the City of Vancouver is obligated to deliver many services that are beyond normal operating city service levels. An overview of the categories of costs that are driving the city’s incremental expenses is included below, however, these initial estimates are subject to change as the planning progresses.

Existing provincial programs continue to fund community programs, events

A variety of significant and important events are supported by existing provincial programs aimed at encouraging vibrant communities, including the pre-existing Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT).

MRDT is available in more than 60 communities and continues to be a key funding mechanism to promote tourism marketing, programs and projects, as well as affordable housing priorities within designated community areas.

Through local governments and destination marketing organizations, the existing MRDT has supported:

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport has additional programs to assist communities and organizations with events of varying sizes within their jurisdictions. Through the Sport Hosting Program, the ministry helps fund national or international single-sport events with a focus on supporting Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Through the BC Games Society, the ministry provides direct grants to help support the costs to communities of hosting BC Summer and Winter games. The Tourism Events Program, funded from 0.2 percentage points of the existing 3% MRDT, has helped fund:

In 2019, the Province provided $3.9 million in Tourism Events Program funding to 70 events, followed by $1.9 million in 2020 to support 28 events and festivals (a decrease from 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Details about the significant rebound of funding for 2022 are expected soon.

As part of the Province’s pandemic recovery strategy, the ministry created a BC Fairs, Festivals and Events Recovery fund, and in 2021-22, $30 million in funding supported 681 events.

The Province continues to consider a range of applications to help build vibrant communities through existing provincial programs to support important events. Upcoming events in 2023 that have or will receive funding through the ministry include the HSBC Canada Rugby Sevens, the CP Women’s Golf Open, the BMO Vancouver Marathon and the RBC GranFondo Whistler.

The B.C. Public Service acknowledges the territories of First Nations around B.C. and is grateful to carry out our work on these lands. We acknowledge the rights, interests, priorities, and concerns of all Indigenous Peoples - First Nations, Métis, and Inuit - respecting and acknowledging their distinct cultures, histories, rights, laws, and governments.