Reports in the Jamaican Gleaner have suggested that Caribbean hotels wish to pay less tax. The Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) is proposing that government and the private sector look urgently at ways of reducing the operating costs for the regional tourism sector.
In his remarks at the opening session of the biannual Carib-bean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) at the Almond Village Resort in Barbados Friday, CHA president Simon Suarez said creating a climate that provides an acceptable return on investment was critical to the future of Caribbean tourism, reports the Gleaner.“A fresh look at how the industry is taxed would be a necessary part of the equation,” he said.“CHA therefore would like to propose a major review of tourism taxation in the Caribbean, particularly to take account of our industry’s competitiveness compared to other destinations and to cruise tourism. This review must be based on the principle that tourism services are an export industry,” said Suarez.He told the meeting of journalists and editors from across the Caribbean as well as Europe and North America that given the region’s inability to raise capital, the CHA has proposed the establishment of a Tourism Investment Fund to harness the capital resources of the region, lower the costs of funds for development projects and act as a conduit for extra-regional resources.The issue of cruise versus land tourism again came under the microscope and the CHA President reiterated his Association’s position that it fully supports the current efforts of regional governments to impose a regional and uniform US$20 head tax on arriving cruise passengers.“This will go some way in addressing the competitive imbalance that exists between the cruise and land-based tourism sectors,” said Suarez.“It is CHA’s position that the funds generated should be directed to the regional marketing campaign that all destinations and all players will benefit from. The application of this uniform levy must be coupled with measures to improve the integration of the cruise industry through a regional cruise policy.“He announced that the CHA, with the support of its industry partners is currently working with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) to complete an economic impact study individually and collectively on 27 Caribbean countries.“We need to ensure that, as with sugar and bananas in the past, tourism is at the top of every political agenda in the future, particularly when it comes to discussions between Governments and multilateral agencies,” he told the meeting. “Tourism’s crosscutting nature also means that trade negotiations in a whole range of goods and services sectors will have an impact on the industry. But the sector’s complexity should not mean that our industry is relegated to the bottom of the policy agenda just because it is viewed as being ‘too difficult.’ The industry’s impact on the lives and welfare of so many Caribbean citizens is far too great for that,” said Suarez.