The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind.” – Psalms 115:16
This week I pause to reflect on the 30-year uninterrupted history of this weekly column. I have been able to sustain this journey thanks to the positive engagement and feedback from global readers over the years and will continue contributing as long as I am blessed with faculties in good working order.
It all began in June 1993 after a visit to Singapore. I was so impressed with Singapore’s development, from a “sleepy fishing village” in 1959 to a first world country, that on my return I wrote a letter to the editor of the Barbados Advocate, “Barbados – The Singapore of the Caribbean”.
The rest is history. My topics have been business-related and over the past 20 years and I have been attracted to the industry which may be described as “the goose that lays the golden eggs for the Caribbean” – the tourism industry. The Lord intended for us to explore the earth and tourism is a vehicle.
Today I embark on a three-part series “Taxation and Caribbean Tourism: Nurturing the Golden Goose”.
The Caribbean region has long been renowned for its vibrant tourism sector, attracting visitors from every corner of the world to experience its pristine beaches, diverse cultures, and warm hospitality. However, to sustain and further develop this vital industry, it is crucial for policymakers to recognize the significance of nurturing and supporting the Caribbean’s tourism sector. In particular, excessive taxation on the sector can have adverse effects on its growth and sustainability. This series will delve into the importance of not burdening the region’s tourism industry with heavy taxes and provide examples of the negative impact of high taxes on intra-Caribbean airline tickets and recent proposed tax increases on cruise ship travelers.
Excessive taxation on intra-Caribbean airline tickets create an unnecessary financial burden on travelers and deter them from exploring the range of destinations available within the Caribbean. By inflating the cost of air travel, travelers may opt for alternative destinations that offer more affordable options or they may not travel at all, resulting in a decline in visitor arrivals and negatively impacting local economies.
Another pertinent example of the potential negative impact of excessive taxation on Caribbean tourism is the recently proposed 27 percent head tax increase on cruise ship travelers to the Bahamas. Cruise tourism has long been a major contributor to the Caribbean’s economy, attracting millions of visitors each year. Implementing exorbitant taxes on cruise passengers not only raises concerns about the cost of cruise vacations but also risks deterring cruise lines from including expensive Caribbean destinations in their itineraries. This, in turn, could lead to a reduction in visitor numbers and a subsequent decline in revenue for local businesses and communities that rely on cruise tourism.
In Parts 2 and 3 in this series, in the next two weeks, we shall take a look at promoting collaboration between accommodation providers and cruise lines; the significance of domestic spend; taxation and why taxing the inputs instead of the outputs is ill-advised; and how efficient public relations and marketing can seal the deal in terms of raising the profile not only of individual destinations and accommodations options, but also the entire Caribbean region.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is email@example.com. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com).