Government denies visitor head tax increase
CMC - Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett has denied reports that the government is moving to increase the head tax for visitors to the country after a leading hotelier called on the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to re-think its position on the issue.
"There is no increase … nothing has come to me with regards to an increase. I think that it is activists/lobbyists that are at work but there is no increase. I'm a bit surprised that anyone would guide them to make comments like that,” Bartlett said.
Chairman of Super Club resorts, John Issa, said there had been reports that the TEF board has voted to increase the head from US$10 to US$20.
TEF Chairman Godfrey Dyer has confirmed that the board of directors has recommended the 100 per cent increase and the decision was the result of greater demand for advertising revenue to sustain Jamaica's presence in the global tourism market.
"Over the last two years, because of the (economic) constraints the Government has found itself in, we have to be taking up a significant portion of tourism though the Jamaica Tourist Board.
"And when we examine the things we have to do including the marketing, we decided that we definitely needed an increase, so it was felt that J$10,000 (US$117) would not be a burden because tourists were used to paying US$30 before that and that's how the US$20 came in," Dyer said.
Issa said up to end of 2010, a total of US$12 million would not have been collected from cruise passengers and warned the Bruce Golding government against killing “the tourism’s "golden goose".