Chief Executive Officer of the BHTA, Senator Rudy Grant.

BHTA OPTIMISTIC

The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) is hoping that Government will review the pending increase in value added tax (VAT) on hotel accommodation.

That’s the word from Chief Executive Officer of the BHTA, Senator Rudy Grant. He was speaking yesterday morning at the BHTA’s 3rd Quarterly General Meeting at the Hilton Hotel, as he noted that the increase in VAT – which is to take effect come January 1, 2020 – is expected to see the tax double from the 7.5 per cent the sector currently pays. With that reality facing the sector, he said the BHTA has been talking with the Ministry of Finance, in particular the Director of Finance and Economic Affairs Ian Carrington, with the hope of getting a lower rate.

“While it is still a policy of Government, we hope to engage in further discussions to determine whether or not there could be some change in this regard. But I have to tell you that as it stands today, the policy of the Government does reflect that effective the 1st of January 2020, the VAT on
accommodation will increase from 7.5 per cent to 15 per cent,” Grant said.

Senator Grant’s comments came as he reflected on the measures introduced in the recent mini-Budget by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, which will impact the tourism sector. In addition to the VAT increase, he said others include a shake-up at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA); the airline travel and tourism development fee which comes into effect from October 1; and the short-term room levies on all categories of accommodation which have been put in place until the VAT increase is implemented.

As it relates to the room levies, which hotels started to charge from July 1 this year, he noted that those staying at luxury accommodation are now paying an additional $20.00 per room per night; “A” Class, $11.00 per room per night and “B” Class and Apartments, $5.00 per room per night. To date, he said, there have not been any major concerns raised by visitors about the recently instituted room levies.

Meanwhile, turning his attention to the new Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC), Senator Grant noted that the BHTA has also asked for further discussion on that matter. He noted that the GSC, which came into effect last month, is being levied through the water bills, with commercial entities’ contributions being 50 per cent of their water bills. Grant said that their understanding is that the properties on the South Coast will see a reduction in their bills, while the increase will be seen by properties on the West Coast.

“In the correspondence which we sent to the Ministry of Finance we did ask for further discussion with respect to this matter. This matter was raised also at the level of the Social Partnership and the Minister of Finance did give the assurance that it is something that would be monitored and reviewed, because many of our members also utilise private services. The objective while it is on the part of Government to raise this revenue to facilitate the provision for garbage disposal and sewage, our members at the same time must not be disadvantaged… so we are continuing to have discussions in relation to this,” he stated. (JRT)

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