CARICOM Chairman, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, says he believes there is a general acceptance within the Caribbean for a lowering of taxes so as to encourage intra-regional travel.
Speaking at a recent forum organized by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, ECCB, Gonsalves said in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, “we have already cut our taxes from US$40 to US$20-dollars, Grenada has announced that they are doing that, I know Roosevelt Skerrit , the prime minister of in Dominica is talking the same thing, Prime Minister Chastanet is talking the same thing, though Antigua and Barbuda has a departure tax plus this other kind of development or levy fee,” he said.
Gonsalves, who has responsibility for transportation in the CARICOM quasi-cabinet observed that “there is, I think, a general acceptance that we have to lower the taxes. It means that the governments will have to put more money from the consolidated fun d in the short run to operate their airports and move into a model to make them places to do business, in addition to just being locales for the movement of passengers.”
In July, while participating in the CARICOM IMPACS Security Conference, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said her country would be moving to review and possibly reduce regional travel taxes, long blamed for the high cost of intra-regional travel.
“We are going to have to create that kind of environment to be able to stimulate travel in the region, because travel has a great multiplier effect within the context of our community and other things,” the Barbadian leader said.
Grenada’s Tourism Minister Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen, a passionate proponent of intra-regional travel, said the Caribbean market must be seen as critical to the rebuilding process.
In this context, Dr. Modeste-Curwen said, there was need for a review of the taxes on intra-Caribbean travel and how these taxes impact the desire for travel among the people of the region.
“It has been said by a number of individuals who are more familiar with the airline industry than I am, that the taxes that are charged on tickets in the region . . . kill the desire to have more inter-Caribbean travel, because the cost of a ticket to go to a nearby island sometimes is almost the same or more than going further afield like the US or otherwise, or you just have to add a little more.
“I think as a Caribbean region, we’ve done a lot of wonderful things together and it’s one of the things that we must keep on the table, enhancing, improving intra-Caribbean travel, and it’s one of the things maybe we as ministers should put a stronger case to our prime ministers to see what can happen,” Dr. Modeste-Curwen said.
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