STRATFORD, ONT. -- By this time next year, it may cost more to stay in Stratford.

Stratford city council has approved, in principle, the creation of a four per cent tax to be added to the bills of tourists staying in the city’s hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts.

The Municipal Accommodation Tax is used in other cities like Waterloo, Huntsville and Sarnia-Lambton is already using the “tourism tax” to help them fund tourism marketing.

“At this point we fund the Stratford Tourism Alliance. I believe that’s $560,000 a year. That payment, right now, comes from municipal taxpayers. This new program would give us the ability to collect funds from tourists,” says Stratford treasurer Michael Humble.

It’s expected the “tourism tax” could bring in as much as $800,000 a year to the city. Half of that would be spent on tourism marketing, the other half could be spent any way council sees fit.

Jennifer Birmingham owns the Bruce Hotel in Stratford. She believes the city is sending the wrong message to current and future visitors to Stratford, with it’s proposed tax.

“We have guests at the hotel that have been coming to the city for 50 years. What this says to them is your contribution to our community is not enough. Give me more.”

If it’s fully approved by council, Stratford’s tourism tax could be added to hotel and motel bills by January of next year.

Stratford welcomes approximately one million tourists each year, most of them in the summer.