Every week another tourism tax

By | Category: Travel rumblings
yacht in ocean off BVI

Trunk Bay in the British Virgin Islands – just one of the attractions of this islands

Sometimes it feels as though every day brings another tax on tourism. It has been suggested that there be one on the isle of Skye until those supporters were reminded that the current laws prohibit that. Malaysia introduced a bed tax from the beginning of this month and, now, travellers going to the British Virgin Islands also face a new tax.

From tomorrow, September 1st, anyone visiting the BVI will have to pay a US $10 environmental and tourism levy at the ports of entry. Residents won’t have to pay the tax nor will children aged two or under. Also omitted from the tax are those “invited by the government” whatever that means.

It is hard to criticise the tax when it has been announced with such laudable aims. But destinations have introduced bed taxes, eco-taxes, taxes on rooms and Venice is considering introducing zone taxes within the city so that you pay to visit the most popular places like St Mark’s Square and the Rialto bridge. Some places reduce VAT on tourism services in order to encourage visitors. It goes to show that tourism has become important politically as politicians the world over manipulate travel, sometimes with the best intentions in  mind and sometimes just to raise money.

purse with money

Are we sure that monies raised from tourist taxes go where the destinations say it will?

The BVI government says that all monies raised will be used to “facilitate environmental protection and improvement, climate change, as well as the maintenance and development of tourist sites and other tourism-related activities.” This new tax comes on top of an increase in the price for cruising permit fees which now cost $6 per person per day for home charter boats and $16 for foreign based charter boats.

But, cynical as I am, I can’t help wondering whether the money will be used for that purpose. In many places revenue has descended into a general financial pool and who knows whether money raised for one thing is used just for tat or shuffled around to fulfil the latest dream of a politician? A new road can be tourism friendly if it makes it easier to travel as can an airport or a railway line. A marina can encourage tourists as can a convention centre but it also brings employment. The dividing line between tourism related items and most other governmental expenditure is very hard to find.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , , ,