CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St.Thomas --- The Caribbean Tourism
Organization's proposed $20 head tax on cruise passengers fueled
many of the discussions at the 26th annual Caribbean Tourism
With few exceptions, tourism ministers were reluctant to commit
their governments -- one way or the other -- regarding the tax.
The proposal was alternatively referred to as a ticket tax, a
head tax, and a passenger cruise tax.
Edison Briesen, minister of tourism for Aruba, said "we will
And, James Hepple, executive director of the Curacao Tourist
Board, said that "there has to be a change in how the Caribbean
markets itself and the way in which the Caribbean funds its
marketing programs on a regional basis. We have to explore new
options and this is one."
Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, director general of the Bahamas
Ministry of Tourism, declined comment and instead said he would
"await the final announcement from the caucus of the tourism
Jamaica's Carrole A. M. Guntley, director general of Jamaica's
ministry of industry and tourism, said that "Jamaica will fall in
line with whatever CTO decides."
Dwyer Astaphan, tourism minister of St. Kitts, described the
proposed tax as a "ticket tax that would be built into each airline
ticket and directed to a professional fund- management company to
be dispersed to various islands for various purposes, such as
passenger security and safety measures, maritime conservation. If a
sufficient number of governments approve this initiative, I believe
it will answer the needs for a new source of sustainable funding to
direct resources to critical areas."
Dr. Orlando Smith, minister of tourism for the British Virgin
Islands, declined to take a position "at this time."
Although Theo Heyliger, economic affairs and tourism minister
for St. Maarten was not at the conference, he had earlier labeled
the proposed tax "an economic disaster" for St. Maarten, if
Heyliger reportedly said the tax was not in the best interests
of St. Maarten and that it would send business to a competing
destination that does not levy the tax.
Antigua reportedly had earlier rejected the proposal and
Dominica was expected to reject it, according to reports.
To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].