Senate Approves bill for Tourism Enhancement Fee


The Senate has approved a Bill to provide for the collection of a Tourism Enhancement Fee, to be paid by incoming airline and cruise ship passengers.
Tabling the Bill at last Friday’s (November 26) sitting of the Senate, Leader of Government Business and Information Minister, Burchell Whiteman pointed out that the fee would be collected by commercial or private carriers, from their passengers who intend to travel to Jamaica and return to a place outside Jamaica.
Senator Whiteman told the Senate that the fee was “not a unique way of financing tourism development”, and was in fact a popular means in other countries. He noted that the US$10 airline charge and the US$2 cruise ship charge were significantly less than in other Caribbean countries, putting Jamaica in the lower range within the Caribbean for fees and taxes for visitors coming to the island’s shores.
The Bill, however, provides for the exemption of persons from payment, such as those who are under two years of age, enjoy diplomatic privileges, are travelling by air destined for some other place outside Jamaica and who are in transit in the island for 24 hours or less, crew members of a commercial airline or ship, or persons who fall within a category of travellers prescribed by the Minister.
Senator Whiteman said the Bill came against the background of the need for a sustainable source of funding for the Tourism Master Plan, which provided a comprehensive framework for the sustainable development of Jamaica’s tourism sector over a 10-year period.
He said the decision was taken to fund the implementation of the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development in Jamaica, principally through the imposition of a fee on persons who journey to Jamaica, where travel originated outside the country. Senator Whiteman noted that an agreement has been reached with the International Association of Travel Authorities (IATA), which would collect the fees from the carriers and channel them to the relevant group in Jamaica.
In the meantime, an interim Board of Directors has already been named for the management of the Fund and a project management unit is to be established. The Tourism Master Plan was completed in September 2002. The Plan seeks to generate growth in the sector, improve the visitor’s experience, encourage community involvement, facilitate greater linkages with other sectors, in particular the agricultural sector, and encourage better management of the environment.

JIS Social