Hoteliers are fearful that the new Room Rate Levy could drive tourists to other destinations.
Introduced in July, the RRL has seen guests at ‘A’ class hotels pay US $5.50 per room per night, $2.50 per room per night at ‘B’ Class and US $10 per room per night at luxury hotels.
In several interviews, hoteliers told Barbados TODAY of their fears that the tax would be hard to collect as well as be exorbitant for the visitors to the island, making accomodation, and the destination, less competitive.
“The levy has made us less competitive against hotels in our sector that are rated as ‘B’ Class and therefore charge US $2.50 per night as compared to our US $5.50 because we are ranked as an ‘A’ class hotel, said Renèe Coppin, general manager of Infinity On The Beach.
Her views were shared by Jacqui McDermott, Sales and Marketing Manager for Oceans Hotels Barbados. She said there is concern among hoteliers that the ongoing non- value-added cost of travelling to Barbados could result in travellers deciding not to holiday here.
“From our side, we understand the need to assist the economy, but the concern is that the tourism product as a whole cannot be simply looked at as the golden goose,”McDermott said. “By simply increasing the cost it will turn people away from staying here at all, with the levy and then the departure tax and then the possible VAT increase. There are extreme concerns within the industry that persons will try to go somewhere else on holiday.”
McDermott added that the hotel was shocked to realize that the tax was applied on both existing bookings and new bookings.
Over at Meridian Inn in St Lawrence Gap, Christ Church, owner Graham Turner, said he had no problem with the new taxes as they were similar to what he experienced in the European Union. His major concern was with the tax’s implementation.
“What I witnessed in Portugal was one Euro per person per night. [The] problem for small hotels that are not full service is collection. A lot of our bookings come from search engines,” Turner told Barbados TODAY, adding that the popular travel booking website, Expedia, was not willing to charge the RRL.
“It would have been easier to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 7.5 percent to 9 percent,” the owner of the 17-room hotel said.
But the RRL was not as problematic to everyone. At a small hotel in St Lawrence Gap, its general manager said the tax was applied to the guests without any challenges.
“The implementation of the levy has been smooth. We had very little pushback from the guests. From a technological standpoint it has been easy to integrate into our Property Management System,” the manager said, We supported the RRL as a fair way to obtain revenue from hotels.
Efforts to obtain a comment from the Chairman of Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Stephen Austin, were unsuccessful up to news time. (LG)