Jamaica’s doubling of its air arrival tax will allow for increased marketing of the destination, according to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
The arrival tax, which is due to increase from $10 to $20 in October, has been approved by Jamaica's Cabinet but still needs Parliament's stamp of approval before it takes effect.
Jamaica also charges each air passenger a departure tax of 1,800 Jamaican dollars (about $21).
The additional funds gained from the arrival tax increase will go toward marketing Jamaica in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey, Bartlett said.
"These countries have become the new target for our marketing team. The funds which will come from the head tax increase will allow better marketing of Jamaica," Bartlett said. "Jamaica's entry into these new markets will require $2.5 million to $3 million as startup capital. These new markets are long-haul destinations, and we must look at the aviation landscape, which has dramatically changed since the economic recession gripped the world two years ago."
He defended the $10 increase, pointing out that St. Lucia recently approved a $35 hike in fees for incoming air passengers to help fund an airport expansion plan. That hike took effect May 1.
Bartlett also emphasized that Jamaica is not alone in seeking additional funding for destination marketing, pointing out that the U.K. hopes to raise $163 million and the U.S. $500 million in two years to market their respective destinations.
Jamaica’s arrival tax, which is added to the airfare and is listed among the fees and charges on each ticket, is collected by IATA on behalf of the scheduled airlines serving Jamaica.
The monies are remitted to the country’s Tourism Enhancement Fund, introduced in 2005 to help fund infrastructure in resort areas. However, much of the revenue collected over the past three years has been used to make up the budget shortfall for the Jamaica Tourist Board to ensure the continuation of destination-marketing programs.
Jamaica also taxes cruise arrivals $2 per passenger, but no change in that fee is contemplated at this time, according to tourism officials.