Information Minister speaks on the increase in passenger head tax

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Minister of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications & Information Technology, Melford Nicholas, dispelled the notion that the government may be trying to get a better economic stake by increasing the passenger head tax for cruise passengers.

 “It has been a matter that the successive governments have been trying to deal with over the past 30 years,” he said in a recent post Cabinet press meeting.

“There is going to be an expectation in the future that when we would have made the new investment, and when we would have improved the guest experience, and when the new port development would have come into being, that inexorably the price per head per cruise passenger would increase,” the Information Minister said.

However, he said, “The highest rate that we are likely to charge is US $10 and it is not outside of the realm that is deemed competitive.”

He referred to a July 22nd 1993 article which stated that all CARICOM countries had agreed to levy a minimum tax of US $10 on each cruise ship passenger but due to resistance from countries such as Barbados, the efforts were thwarted.

Nicholas said that almost 30 years later the same position obtains.

He also presented the current rates per cruise passenger to concretize this point. The highest rate charged is $60 in Bermuda. The Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands have the second highest rate of $18 each, while Jamaica has the third highest rate of $15.

 Meantime, the Dominican Republic and Guadeloupe both charge the lowest head tax ($1.50) while Antigua and Barbuda charges $7.50.

The rates per passenger for some other CARICOM countries are as follows: Grenada, $4.50; Haiti, $6; Puerto Rico, $13.25; St. Kitts and Nevis, $6; St. Lucia, $5; St. Vincent, $10; and Trinidad and Tobago, $5.

All the rates quoted are in US dollars.

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