The Cayman Islands will consider the implementation of a dynamic tax regime during the quieter shoulder months in a bid to lower the cost of travelling to the country.
Kenneth Bryan, Minister of Tourism, said on Monday that the suggestion of dynamic taxes from Nicola Madden-Greig, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, is one that he will also take to the members of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO). Bryan is the new Chairman of the CTO.
“It is a strategy that I think should be introduced across the region. As Chairman of the CTO I want to see if there is a better analysis of each country’s taxation and work with economists to see if we can maneuver the taxes to move it away from the flights,” he said, speaking on a private/public partnership panel discussion at the Caribbean Travel Forum.
The Forum was a new element of the CHTA’s annual Travel Marketplace, which was held in Puerto Rico.
Bryan was addressing the topic of inter-regional travel, which remained a major theme throughout the event.
CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig
In her opening address at the Forum, Madden-Greig said while travel to the Caribbean has increased more than any other region in the world, intra-regional travel is lagging with only 14 per cent of business coming from that area.
Business, she said, is the top reason for intra-regional travel with Leisure/vacation, conferences and meetings, events and festivals, and shopping as other motivators.
She cited travel restrictions, testing and quarantines as top obstacles to recovery and noted the difference in growth since most islands dropped all of their COVID-19 entry protocols.
She said while 70 per cent of the region’s tourism boards pro-actively promote intra-regional travel, visitors are prone to visit one destination instead of two or more because of connectivity issues.
Stating that the Caribbean must be seen as a multi-destination similar to Europe, Madden-Greig repeated a suggestion made at the IATA conference in the Cayman Islands last month for dynamic taxation.
She suggested that instead of each island doing away with their taxes completely, they could adopt a seasonal approach to airline taxation with a two or three-tiered system. Taxes, she said, could be applied in the low, peak, or shoulder months.
Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Jamaica
Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, called for an air service agreement that would allow open skies so airlines from anywhere in the world can fly into the region.
He said there is no need for an airline owned by the Caribbean as there will be connectivity once access is created.
Bartlett also supported the call for multi-destination marketing for the region, stating that the Caribbean needs to be marketed as a product instead of simply a geographical space.
He also advocated for the harmonisation of protocols in the region.
“That is a political ambition that we have to get. The leaders of Caricom have to come together to provide that political ambition that puts aside nationalism for a minute and sovereignty for a second. We need the harmonisation of airspace to allow for air connectivity across the Caribbean,” he said.
He also advocated for a common visa regime, which would allow people to visit all the islands in the way that the Schengen visa operates in Europe.