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Bill passed for visitors to pay $10 -Residents too?

A group of visitors

A group of visitors

The House of Assembly has passed a Bill through which the government is seeking to have all visitors to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) start paying $10 into a fund that is yet to be established.

The Bill, which is entitled Environmental Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund Act 2017, was passed with amendments yesterday, April 18.

However, those amendments are not yet clear to the press as final changes to Bills are done in private.

Before lawmakers went behind closed doors to add their finishing touches to the Bill, they debated the proposed law in the open House of Assembly.

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, who piloted the Bill, explained that the fees will be charged in tickets.

According to Clause 3 of the Bill, “An environmental levy at the rate of $10 shall be levied on and payable by each visitor arriving in the Virgin Islands by air or sea. A specified sum of money shall be included in the cost of a ticket collected by the owner, master or any agent for any vessel, or by any person through whom passengers are brought into the Virgin Islands.”

Premier Smith

Premier Smith

Clause four of the Bill, in the meantime, outlines the purposes for which the money collected should be used.

“The minister shall direct that the monies of the fund be applied towards activities related to environmental protection improvement, climate change and other matters affecting the environment, the maintenance and development of tourism sites and other tourism-related activities throughout the territory, and the marketing of the territory as a premier tourist destination,” said the Bill, as read by Premier Smith.

Contributing to the debate, Opposition lawmakers Julian Fraser and Andrew Fahie cautioned against the government’s appetite for price increases, adding that such hikes may discourage visitors from coming to the BVI.

They also wondered if persons who will collect the new fee in tickets will ensure it is paid over to the Government. “When you talk about the owner of a carrier collecting the government money, you not going to get it,” Fraser said. He, as well as Fahie, think the fee should be paid directly to the government’s Ports Authority officers at ports of entry.

Julian Fraser. File photo

Julian Fraser. File photo

Fraser, in the meantime, stated that the purposes for which the new levy will be spent are too broad.

“The categories are broad; they are not conclusive; they are just broad…. Very little of it (levy collected) will go towards the environment unless it’s specified here in the Act what percentage of it shall go towards the environment… And I do not agree that it (a portion of the new fee) should go towards the promotion of tourism,” Fraser further reasoned.

Penalty for not paying over

Responding to the concerns, Premier Smith said he does not think the $10 will be too onerous for visitors.

“In many cases, especially in Europe, a similar fee is applied daily for each day of the visit. But, here in the BVI, it should be a one-off fee for the visit,” he said.

Premier Smith also noted that a penalty is proposed in the Bill for the operators of airlines, ferries and other carriers who collect the environmental levy from visitors, but refuse to pay them over to Government.

Cruise ship passengers won’t pay new fee – Vanterpool

Junior Minister of Tourism Archibald Christian, also noted the penalties. He said the government’s Financial Secretary will have the power to seize the ferry or any other carrier belonging to the offender until the funds collected from visitors are paid over.

“And the master or owner of the vessel would be liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000 in addition to the amount of the levy [not paid over t Government],” Christian further said while making reference to the proposed law.

Residents should pay too – Christian

Christian, in further contributing to the debate, said he thinks tourists would be willing to pay the additional $10.

He also stated that, if it were up to him, residents would also be required to pay the environmental levy.

“If anyone will argue that a tourist is going to complain about making a contribution towards a fund that will ensure that whenever they arrive at this destination that their experience would be second to none, then I think that person would be fooling themself. I haven’t come across a visitor yet that has indicated they don’t mind paying…” Christian said.

He added: “If I had my way; if it were me alone crafting this bill – but its not me alone – this bill would have some contribution to be paid by us as well; we who reside here. But, for today, it’s about tourism and the environment..”

Christian

Christian

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61 Comments

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  1. Norman says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 1

    I thought we were already paying a fee???

    • feesss says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 1

      first the departure tax. now this. Keep it up NDP; shot yourself in the foot see how far you go

      • Albion says:

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

        The big risk is that this fee raises virtually no money (especially if they exclude cruise ship visitors and residents), but is costly and burdensome to collect.

        Then you just create even more hassles for our tourist visitors but for virtually no upside.

        If we are going to have this levy at all (which I question) it is imperative that it be collected automatically rather than having our visitors stand in yet another queue to see yet another civil servant and pay yet another fee.

      • real TALK says:

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        They got to stop f.. the money an now trying to make sure the small man pay it back y don’t they take a Pay cut

    • Nature's Little Arrival Tax says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

      ““In many cases, especially in Europe, a similar fee…” Really, which country? The only country that I am aware of that shakes down arriving visitors is DR. Right?

      • feesss says:

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        we could be sneaky about it and put the fee in the airfare. But like Fraser we think the port authority and not the airline should collect it.

      • Only fraiser says:

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

        Not in Europe Premier don’t know where Iu got that from. In Italy if you stay at a hotel in Milan and Venice you pay a city tax. No envirmental levy.

        Try push up the cost of diesel and take the difference from the big truck dem who make a killing shifting material, cement and water.

      • Susie says:

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

        No European countries charge a fee for visiting! Where did you get this idea from!

  2. Tax says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 43 Thumb down 2

    Another tax to plump the governments hidden spending and missing funds.

    Do you think day trippers will want to pay this. They will just go straight to VG/ JVD to avoid yet more costs.

  3. Just saying says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 45 Thumb down 1

    The f*** is this bullsht

  4. ? says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 45 Thumb down 1

    Now Arrival Tax to go with Departure Tax! TAX TAX TAX..Pay roll TAX, NHI TAX, SS TAX, work permit TAX, Sin TAX…the list goes on and they keep adding to it.

    • feesss says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

      true and where is the money going, infrastructure a mess, healthcare not good

    • Yung ting says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      All these taxes and no raise of pay. Well, most of us were fighting for minimum wage to increase not knowing that more taxes will be implemented.

      All I want to knuh is when dem go legalize the sweet sensi??

  5. Mickey says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 63 Thumb down 0

    $$$’s to help combat climate change eh?

    How much have they just spent in buying diesel generators to burn fossil fuels to produce power? And then there’s the open burning of plastics and all sorts of devastating toxic materials next door in Pockwood pond’s “open incenerator”

    I’ll let you into a little secret NDP, the tourists can see all this and will wonder why the investments aren’t going into wind or solar power generation or are we lacking in regular sun or wind here?

    This government seems confused about what causes climate change or perhaps it is a conspiracy made up by the Chinese?

  6. bandit says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

    Is this in addition to the departure tax that’s already in place

  7. John says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 1

    Bull. Just another way to put money in their pockets. And what exactly is there to see in Tortola that makes it a major tourist destination?

    And to make residents pay? They can’t even afford a decent living as it is.

  8. smh says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 0

    this government jus looking ways to milk our MS. the ferry prices done gone up and lets not for get the TAXXX and ayo still looking fee. is best i move

    • BVIslander says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

      Me too. When the poor island people get fed up and go back home, its then you will see ting.

      The majority of locals are barely surviving and have to depend on St. Thomas for some goods and services in terms of costs and variety and now this.

      Tod mundo need to leave this place…locals and expats. The pressure is simply too much. Our pipes bound to burst…if it ain’t done start.

      Good Lord help us in these our beloved Virgin Islands.

  9. Haha says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

    jyst another way to make BVI airways prices look the best since they don’t pay the same fees as everyone else…

    A government work for us (rich white friends)

  10. Adios says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 0

    Of course I’m sure the cruise ship visitors will be exempt.

    Sorry Doc, but I’ve been a long time visitor who stays many weeks and quite frankly, I’m tired of getting nickel and dimed at every turn .

    That $10 added to every other tax and fee is enough to make me start looking elsewhere. Plenty of options down island I hear.

  11. trucks says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1

    If you care about the environment so much start by taking off the road these huge trucks which emit more black toxic fumes than a coal fired power station.

    Seriously some of them completely block the road a in a huge cloud of smoke and nothing is done. its a disgrace.

    • And how bout that trash says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

      Or how about cleaning up. There is so much trash everywhere, on every street, at every beach……

  12. vip says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

    I want the NDP kill ayo

  13. Eagle eye says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

    Anytime the bvi people put back in the 3peice suit thiefs I gone.and i’m from here.

  14. eyes on says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

    what tax,this is just real bullsht and a war will come just now.

  15. Nuff Said says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

    I wonder who visitor you talk to that tell you they do not mind paying arrival tax.

    I have travelled all over the Caribbean and some of the states and have never had to pay arrival tax. I pay environmental tax and it in the price of the airlein tickets

  16. ndp heckler says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

    LETS MAKE THE BVI GREAT AGAIN BY VOTING OUT THE NDP

  17. Empress says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

    Tax again??!!! Have mercy man!

  18. Scary Mary says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

    Nickel and diming visitors is a very slippery slope that will eventually KILL tourism. Doctor Smith must stay up nights trying to think up new ways to make visitors pay for NDP over-spending.

    It is nauseating to watch as our Government continues down this very destructive path, irreparably harming our reputation in the only sector that is actually still generating income for the territory.

    Since the Doctor is keen on exporting, I guess we could start exporting sand from the beaches since (soon enough), nobody will be here to use them.

  19. no way... says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    What exactly do they plan to do with this ‘new’ tax money???

  20. Hah says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

    The Premier doesn’t think the $10 will be too onerous because he is rich!

    His bread has been buttered for decades no pun intended big up to the original Josh. The Premier cannot relate to the regular joes of the BVI.

    His colleagues and friends, his immediate circle is full of the Who’s who of BVI elites.

    He has never went to sleep hungry or sacrificed breakfast so that you can have enough for dinner.

    As for Archie The people will send him packing in a couple more years it’s just too bad he qualified for pension.

  21. Death of a Territory says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

    Next Carribean trip will not be to the BVI. God Bless Good night!…………..but what if I came in on a yacht? hmmm

  22. Jeezz says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

    This Government is all about money. Trust me soon no one would visit or migrate to the BVI if they continue like this.

  23. Lodger says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

    If locals are to pay it, do you mean every time they come in?

    Supposing someone gets a through ticket FROM ABROAD, say from Europe, how you going to get the overseas airline or agency to add it to the ticket and hand it over to government?

    What have we done in the past, and what are we to do in future to preserve our evironment?

    Its our own people who despoil it, destroying mangroves, land filling, fly tipping, roadside garbage, unkempt properties etc. How will this tax be applied to prevent all that?

    Another very badly thought out bill. Who drafts these things?

  24. READY FOR CHANGE says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

    25 bloggers just got dismissed because we hide behind the scene and throw words.
    Where are the petitions, the strikes, the sit ins, the sick outs, the marches. Where is the unity in our points????

  25. ndp heckler says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    The ministry of natural resources is presently polluting cane garden bay….Where are the silt screens? $#itty water is running all over cane garden bay road as we speak.

  26. i was hacked says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

    Time for me to look into moving. This is getting ridiculous, taxing for everything yet the roads bad the food expensive and rent high

  27. Looking ahead says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

    The sooner we get waste of time people & puppets like Archie out of politics the better.

  28. Kil says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    So because these vistors, majority being tourists, they pushing for destroying the environment locals have to pay as well? Go take a seat please we already paying all the heafty taxes you forced us into.

  29. Clown says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    What’s this called..’Environmental/tourism tax?’ Might as well they take everyone’s paycheck, and return what they feel. They could call it ‘tax refund.’

  30. And how bout that trash says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    Or how about cleaning up. There is so much trash everywhere, on every street, at every beach……

  31. E. Leonard says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    The water, historical sites, national parks, beaches………..etc are used for the pleasure and enjoyment of residents and visitors. The water(sea) are a major draw for both stay over guests, cruise passengers and bare boaters. As such, the environmental resources must be protected and preserved to serve as a long-term tourist attraction, as well as for the use and enjoyment of current Virgin Islanders and Virgin Islanders yet unborn.

    Undoubtedly, users of the environmental resources must pay for their protection, preservation, maintenance, repair……….etc. Invariably, what happens in under- developed countries with limited resources and no protection and preservation strategy and operations is that the resources are exploited, stressed, polluted, unprotected and not preserved, resulting in the resources losing their appeal to tourists. When resources can no longer provide or meet their beneficial uses, tourists move on to the next destination(s). The BVI must protect and preserve its natural and built attractions.

  32. Bvi says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    Who is ready to march am ready needs NDP need to get the f**k out of office ayo killing us with tax tax tax an all now cast of living can’t go down strupes

  33. The Visitor says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

    For the past 30 years or so my family has spent upwards of $10,000 a week for our annual BVI vacations so on the face of it an additional $10 per person should not make a difference. BUT this constant attitude that the government can just soak their long term visitor base to cover their financial incompetence while ignoring the damage that the cruise ship trade is doing both to the environment and our experiences as long term visitors is beginning to enter into our decision to possibly give Cuba or some other islands a try.

    Maybe if the government released a few audit reports so we could see who’s pockets all this cash is ending up in might make a difference.

  34. Peter says:

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • In Tourism says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      $10,000 a week is not that much. Let’s say a family of four. $3000 for airfare. $5000 for a villa or $5000 to $15000 for a bare boat. Then add food and drinks. You can burn through that $10,000 easily. It is done every week hundreds of times. Last time I checked you can sail those boats out of there.

  35. Leta says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    Hope the governor will not sign this bill. The premier and his crew are trying to rip off people to continue their reckless spending.

    They are hiding theirs while trying to take from others. Their greed has become an addiction. They must be stopped at some point.

  36. No Sah says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    An average family of 5-8 tourists on a boat from most charter companies pay upwards of several thousand dollars for the boat without food captain or tips just to set the record straight Peter – Villas are not cheap either so don’t confuse Necker with a lower to medium fee charter boat

    • ? says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      @Peter… Peter does not have a clue about what he is spurting… Easy to spend $10K per week in the BVI: place to stay, restaurants, bars, entertainment, liquor, food, taxi, ferry. Easy peasy. Go sit down Peter!

  37. BuzzBvi says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Everybody.

    They are trying to pay for an airport project!!

    That is all this money stuff is about. Forget better roads, health care, environment. This money is for the big share out amongst friends when the airport starts and the money flows out to the lucky few.

    It will not be $150 Million when it is over but $800 Million collected from anywhere or anyone and passed into the pockets of a few whilst we get a substandard $100Million dollar airport upgrade that can take just two types of aircraft from 2 airports in mainland US.

    It is about an airport and how to get rich from it.

  38. Brad Boynes says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Swell
    Seize the time in time.

  39. Common Sense says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Yeah we look like special needs because you guys just robbing and stealing from us the taxpayers to fund your own ideals, but didn’t we elect you all to help us and to keep the country safe, stable and prosperous but this Government is doing the opposite, you are introducing new taxes and fees while increasing already established taxes and fees.

    The taxpayers can’t make it fast enough and you already finding ways to take it from us. This injustice needs to be protested, Have a heart!

  40. hmmm says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    and they say that we’re not a tax haven and everyday is some new tax for this and that and the average man can’t even make a decent pay check, no incriments but more pay outs. what a thing

  41. Big mistake says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    .#1 – I think that will deter visitors to the region especially if you’re charging criseships an extra $10/person to come here.
    #2 – if it is included in the cost of tickets by air and/or sea does that mean we as locals will be paying it every time we go to St Thomas or leave by air too? That will really add up over a year. Not a good idea!!!
    —–why not just increase the departure fee to non-residents by $10 and exclude the cruise passengers. Keep the local rate at $20 from the airport/$15 ferry….increase it to $30 for visitors.

  42. Sad says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Outrageous! St.Lucia, St. Kitts, Nevis are more beautiful (no abandoned cars and containers dotted around) and they don’t charge a levy.

    BVI’s residence are the one that should not litter. Look at Road Town or your neighbor’s backyard!

  43. Adios says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    BVI a pig sty. Islanders are slobs.

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