The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association is fighting against a planned $10 increase on air passengers arriving in Jamaica.

The Jamaican government has approved the increase from $10 to $20 per passenger for the "Tourism Enhancement Fund," but JHTA President Wayne Cummings called the increase excessive and said it would hurt tourism.

The increase is scheduled to take effect in October.

The fund was introduced in 2005, with fees set at $10 per air passenger and $2 per cruise passenger. Jamaica also has a departure tax of 1,800 Jamaican dollars (about $21) that is often included in the airfare. That tax rose from 1,000 Jamaican dollars in 2009.

The arrival fees are supposed to help fund infrastructure in resort areas, but over the last three years, much of the revenue collected has been used to make up the budget shortfall for the Jamaica Tourist Board to ensure the continuation of destination marketing programs, according to Cummings.

"That assistance to the JTB amounted to almost $12 million of the $17 million collected per year over the last two years," Cummings said.

JHTA does not want to deny funding to the JTB in light of the challenges of the recession and a difficult fiscal situation in Jamaica, but the association "cannot agree that a 100% increase in this tax is justified," Cummings said.


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