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Tourism Updates

Stay up to date on current and upcoming tourist events! At Caribbean Biz in New York, USA, we keep you in the loop about the latest happenings and events in the region. The 28 Islands referred to as the melting pot, because of the high cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity has approximately 40 million individuals, each of which possess their own unique culture and economic characteristics.


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September 20, 2018

Barbados Today

Robyn Rihanna Fenty appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Government has appointed international pop icon, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, with specific responsibility for promoting education, tourism and investment for the island.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley stated that Government was honoured to be able to confer the title on this outstanding Barbadian who has contributed significantly to raising the island’s profile across the world.

“Rihanna has a deep love for this country and this is reflected in her philanthropy, especially in the areas of health and education. She also shows her patriotism in the way she gives back to this country and continues to treasure the island as her home.

“She has also demonstrated, beyond her success as a pop icon, significant creative acumen and shrewdness in business. It is therefore fitting that we engage and empower her to play a more definitive role as we work to transform Barbados,” Mottley stated, noting that her charitable contributions, both locally and internationally, have also been significant.

Rihanna was appointed as one of Barbados’ Cultural Ambassadors in 2008, undertaking promotional work on behalf of the ministry with responsibility for tourism. However, this expanded role takes into consideration her multidimensional achievements and global influence across a much broader range of areas.

In accepting her new duties, Ambassador Fenty noted that she was ready to play her part in creating a new Barbados.

“I couldn’t be more proud to take on such a prestigious title in my home country. Every Barbadian is going to have to play their role in this current effort, and I’m ready and excited to take on the responsibility. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Mottley and her team to reimagine Barbados,” she stated. (BGIS)


August 30. 2018 

Tourism Enhancement Funds Can Benefit All, Says Caribbean Hotel Executive

ROSEAU, Dominica - The establishment of a private sector-driven Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has the potential to be a "game changer" as Dominica rebuilds its vital tourism industry.

Sanovnik DestangAddressing last week's open session of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association's (DHTA) Annual General Meeting, Immediate Past President of the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) Sanovnik Destang said if implemented effectively, the TEF resources collected from visitors could generate nearly EC $1 million to bolster tourism-related initiatives, creating employment and providing other socioeconomic benefits for the island in the aftermath of last year's Hurricane Maria.

"With 500 rooms in stock, $2 a night at 60 percent occupancy, you would net about EC$600,000 a year, if there is 100 percent participation," he stated in his keynote presentation. This amount, Destang estimated, could grow to "close to EC $1 million in contributions" with additional rooms coming on stream along with participation from the alternative accommodations sector. "There's a lot of good that can be done in society and in the economy with that amount of money, if spent wisely."

Having served as the first Chairman of St. Lucia's TEF from 2013 to 2016, Destang hailed its virtues, disclosing the Fund has generated more than $7 million and fueled more than 500 projects.

The executive director of St. Lucia's award-winning Bay Gardens Resorts highlighted some of TEF's key projects, including its agricultural linkages program, workforce development and training programs, SLHTA young leaders program, sponsorship of the St. Lucia culinary team and the "Chefs in Schools" program, clean-up campaigns as well as local and regional disaster relief efforts, including assistance to Dominica in 2017.

"Our award-winning Virtual Agricultural Clearing House program has helped generate more than $1 million annually in sales for farmers from hotels and has cost us less than $100,000 a year," said Destang, addressing the meeting's theme 'Beyond Resiliency - Reigniting Our Growth Engine'.

He stressed SLHTA's success, which can be quantified in social and economic terms, has built tremendous goodwill and "has helped us to successfully argue that anything that helps improve the hospitality sector's performance can directly benefit society at large."

Noting other Caribbean nations have previously set up TEFs, he advised his Dominican counterparts to extensively consult with one another before applying a TEF 'to your own reality'. One option, Destang suggested, may be to make TEF contributions mandatory given the intimate size of the island's room stock. "My experience is that clients are quite happy to pay the fee once they understand what it is used for."

Commending Dominica for recent steps it has taken towards sustainability and resiliency (especially next year's ban on plastic disposables and Styrofoam containers), he noted its citizens have "a real opportunity to build back better and stronger".

In closing, Destang said the "Nature Isle" ought to leverage tourism's benefits and its linkages to lift its people out of poverty. Although tourism's resurgence must be driven by the private sector, he said government will need to provide important facilitation through policies, capital access, infrastructural investment and ensuring ease of doing business. However, government and the DHTA alone cannot reignite the country's growth engine, Destang counselled. Buy-in from civil society is crucial. "In Dominica, I see tremendous potential. Nature and eco-tourism is a growing niche which you have mastered," he said.

Describing Dominica as "authentic and unspoiled", he concluded: "We try to manufacture that now and you have it naturally. You are literally the last of your kind in this part of the world and a critical part of Brand Caribbean. The entire Caribbean is rooting for you and eagerly awaits your comeback - but none more than your sister island, St. Lucia."

Author Darcel Choy


July 13, 2018

When Tourism Taxes Become Excessive

By David Jessop

News Americas, LONDON, England, Fri.

 As the reach and range of taxation has expanded, Caribbean hoteliers in particular have become uneasy about the impact that increasing levels of taxation may have on their competitiveness and that of the country they are located in.

Most accept that government’s ability to raise revenue is important, not just to ensure that tourism infrastructure, destination marketing and incentives are in place, but to provide the education, social services and all else that a state is expected to provide. The consequence is that although hoteliers regularly complain, and investors seek the longest possible tax holidays, for the most part the industry begrudgingly accepts that they and their guests must contribute to the national economy.

However, there are signs of a debate emerging in some parts of the region and externally as to whether a point is being reached where the widening mix of visible and invisible taxes a visitor must pay, may be starting to make some Caribbean destinations and stay-over tourism of questionable value for money.

Up to now, governments in the region have taken the view that there is little down-side to taxing foreigners seeking a dream vacation. The view is that the high end of the market is not affected by new taxes and levies, while vacations at mid-level price points are not be much influenced because the Caribbean remains a desirable destination.

However, in recent weeks the issue has become more widely discussed because of a range of tourism related taxes introduced by Barbados new government to help address the parlous economic situation it has inherited.

The measures introduced, in what is already a high cost destination, have created uncertainty among hoteliers, tour operators and the international media as to whether they will deter or displace visitors to elsewhere in the region.

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From October 1st, there will be a per person US$70 Airline Travel and Tourism Development fee for departures to extra-regional destinations and a US$35 fee for travel within the Caribbean.

In addition, there is a new hotel room tax of US$2.50 per night for B Class properties and apartments, a US$5.50 per night charge for A Class properties and US$10 nightly tax for stays at luxury resorts. A ten per cent tax has been introduced on shared accommodation such as Airbnb, and other taxes, including a product development levy on direct tourism services, are likely to hit tourists indirectly.

Because these are in addition to existing airport and other charges, this means the cumulative impact on a family of four, when sales and other taxes and the charges levied by airlines and source destinations are included, threatens to add significantly to the basic cost of a Barbados vacation.

Already, Ernst & Young, the management accountants have cautioned that the new tourism taxes could reduce Barbados’ competitiveness as a tourist destination, dampening travel as price sensitive tourists select cheaper destinations.

Travel Weekly, the trade publication, has described new room tax as a “a sure-fire way to annoy customers.” Its editor, Lucy Huxley, commenting recently that ‘rushing through taxes that hit customers who have the choice to vote with their feet in the future could well end up not delivering the results it is hoping for.’

Others have pointed out that the burden falls only on land-based tourism, so far leaving the notoriously awkward cruise ship companies untouched and their passengers paying a head tax of just US$6.

What Barbados’ economic misfortune and its new visitor taxes suggest is the need for a broader debate about the impact of tourism taxes on pricing and the point at which revenue raising measures become counterproductive.

The danger is that in Barbados and elsewhere in the region, a moment may come when rising levels of tourism taxes mean that middle-market visitors stay for shorter periods, turn to cruising, seek alternative warm water destinations offering better service, cuisine, comfort, and value for money, or worse: they simply say that the Caribbean has become too expensive.


David Jessop is a consultant to the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at [email protected]

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