Reconsider high departure taxes
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Government's decision to increase departure taxes from US$14.80 to US$35 per passenger, a 75 per cent increase, seems very unreasonable at this time. Jamaica will now have one of the highest departure taxes in the region.
I agree with Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association that the increase is too high. You don't try to lure more visitors by increasing taxes. Locals departing the island will also pay the same increased taxes. A family of four will see a multiplier effect, close to a J$10,000 increase in the price of tickets for a holiday.
Most persons travelling solo probably won't notice the increase, as taxes are embedded in ticket prices, but families will certainly feel the pinch and may have to reconsider travelling overseas for a vacation. Government could be more reasonable.
Instead of raising departure taxes at this time, we should be trying everything possible to increase our share of the tourist market, as every extra visitor will potentially spend on goods, services and entertainment, outside of hotel resorts, at airports and elsewhere. This will stimulate the industry and employment and increase foreign revenues, as well as via consumption tax.
We hope the Government will reconsider the massive increase in departure taxes and find other ways to stimulate revenues and growth. Taxes are not always the answer.