The Caribbean tourism industry is having its worst period in its history due to the ongoing global financial crisis and government taxation policies.
Director General of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Alec Sanguinetti said the industry is threatened and unfortunately because of the contracting of government revenues the downturn in tourism the industry has become the bulls eye for taxation.
“We have seen an increase in taxes on room nights, we have seen an increase on air tickets. We have one or two governments who are looking at putting taxes on service charges. We need to get some relief,” he said.
Sanguinetti said there was need now for greater collaboration between the regional private and public sectors.
“But we need to re-tool our industry. There are things that are within our control to fix which we need to do and the longer those policy issues are ignored the more serious it will be not only for the hotel industry but for the entire industry,” he added.
Sanguinetti said while Britain had decided to hold its hand at least for a year in increasing the Air Passenger Duty (APD) it was vitally important that the region continue to protest the tax which he described as being detrimental to the entire sector.
He said the APD is detrimental to the industry and “we have seen signs of that already both to land-based tourism and in 2012 the cruise lines have recognized the potential impact and we have seen some cruise lines have announced for 2012 the re-position of ships out of the Caribbean, which is going to impact particularly the south eastern Caribbean.”