... Phillips adjusts tourism measures
Tourism interests locally are gearing up to prevent a fallout in business following the decision by the Government to impose a US$20 fee on tickets bought overseas by inbound passengers.
Dr Wykeham McNeill, the minister of tourism, yesterday told The Gleaner that the country's tourism promotion team would be partnering with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) to safeguard the interest of the sector.
"Both ourselves and the JHTA will be going out to talk to our overseas partners to mitigate the effect, to have discussions, and to try and ensure the success and viability of this sector which is so important to all of us," McNeill told The Gleaner .
In closing the Budget Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips announced a modification of revenue measures he had proposed last month.
In addition to the ticket fee, which will take effect on August 1, the revised measures see the proposed room tax being lowered when compared with the original announcement.
Effective September 1, the Government will be charging an accommodation tax per occupied hotel room. Phillips said US$1 will be charged for accommodations with fewer than 51 rooms. He also said US$2 is to be charged at accommodations with 51-100 rooms, while US$4 is to be charged at accommodations with 101 or more rooms.
Initially, the Government had proposed accommodation tax of up to US$12 per room for properties with 201 or more rooms. It was also proposed to impose a tax of US$2 for properties with fewer than 51 rooms.
"These measures have been agreed in a spirit of cooperation with the JHTA, and the JHTA has agreed to assist the Government with sensitising industry players as well as travel partners on the importance of implementing these measures," Phillips said in the House.
He commended the JHTA for demonstrating "civic responsibility and good corporate citizenship which is going to be needed to take us though these times".
Phillips said he explained to the JHTA that the revenues need to be collected. He argued that "if the crisis of the debt was to deepen, they would be the first to be affected".