A proposed 1,000% price increase on the driving permit required of all visitors who rent cars on Barbados is now being reevaluated by the government, according to the Barbados Tourism Authority.
Until further notice, the cost of each permit remains at $10, which is a far cry from the $100 fee proposed by the government during recent budget hearings.
Many of the island's 23 car rental operators said that the increase, if allowed to stand, would have a ripple effect on vendors, attractions, tour guides, land operators, restaurants, bars and hotels.
Carole Burnett, owner of ABC Car Rentals, echoed the sentiments of many operators.
"If allowed to become law, this will have a far-reaching negative effect on every single visitor and all of our facilities and attractions," Burnett said. "This is a safe island, and many visitors feel comfortable in renting cars and exploring on their own. The increase will cause a big drop-off in car rentals of less than three days and will affect revenues at sightseeing attractions, as well.”
A spokesman for Executive Car Rentals said, "We have a lot of repeat guests, and they'll forego renting a car with this permit price.”
Other proposed budget hikes that appear likely to be enforced include a 50% tax hike on alcohol, which would raise the price of all-inclusive resort stays, said Sue Springer, executive vice president of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association.
An increase in the cost of liquor licenses "will hurt our smaller properties," Springer said.
The government does plan to inject an additional $10 million into the Barbados Tourism Authority’s restructured marketing program.