The Adrian Loveridge Column – Government Must Clarify Departure Tax ASAP!
I sincerely hope that as we are already in the month of August, with less than 60 days before the new Government imposes the additional ‘departure’ or airline tax of US$70 per person outside the region and US$35 within the Caribbean, that they will shortly clearly communicate how this levy will be collected.
Not surprisingly, in the absence of any clear guidelines, social media speculation has been rife and in many instances misleading.
On the popular TripAdvisor Barbados Forum, one person posted that they had received a response from the London office of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., which stated ‘the intention is to have this departure tax included within the price of the ticket – our team on the ground from the Ministry of Tourism are working with the relevant authorities to ensure this will be the case’.
At the time of submitting this column, no mention of this additional charge could be found on the websites of Virgin Atlantic, British Airways or Thomas Cook Airlines with most listing the conditions which indicate all mandatory taxes and charges are included.
By now of course, the vast majority of travellers have already paid for their flights and/or tour packages for arrivals after 1st October 2018.
Are they left to speculate that within the next few weeks, some sort of payment facility will be placed in the departure area of the Grantley Adams International Airport?
What sort of directive has been issued to the travel agents, tour operators and airlines and, if one has been distributed, why is there not more clarity on their websites and Facebook (FB) pages?
As a former travel agent and tour operator, the very last thing you want is not to possess the facts which can be accurately related to your clients. After all, that is why the vast majority of people book through third parties to avoid unnecessary unpleasant surprises.
Having been a Director and Committee chairman of our tourism trade body, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, naturally I contacted them to clarify the situation, but sadly with the initial contact, no definitive information was available at this time.
The previous administration built quite a reputation for frequently not implementing efficient new policies in a timely manner over their decade of ‘governance’. Let us not repeat these same mistakes.
During the budget presentation in Parliament, Prime Minister, Mia Motley, said ‘it is anticipated that this measure in a full fiscal year will realise $95 million. $75 million to fund the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, and Barbados Tourism Product Authority with $20 million for regulation of tourism and civil aviation and the country’s shareholder responsibilities to LIAT’.
Applying simple division, BDS$95 million would equate to 678,571 long stay visitors paying the full US$70 per person, but allowing for the reduced intra Caribbean rate of US$35, this would obviously raise that overall number to reach that fiscal target.
According to available data, in 2017 Grantley Adams International Airport welcomed 663,441 visitors. Whether this included in-transit passengers is not clear.
What is also unanswered is whether cruise and fly arrivals be subject to this new levy or will they again escape paying any meaningful contribution to marketing Barbados.