A recently approved increase in Jamaica’s Tourist Enhancement Fee from $10 to $20 per air passenger arrival is “excessive” and “will affect travel to the Jamaica,” said Wayne Cummings, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA). The increase is scheduled to take effect in October, according to local press reports.
Under Jamaica’s 2005 Tourism Fund Act, fee revenues are to be used to “enhance the tourist industry.” Cummings had earlier said JHTA would accept a $5 increase in the fee, but said a 100 percent hike “sends a wrong signal to the airline market and to consumers.” He also said that instituting a fee increase only months after Jamaica successfully lobbied the United Kingdom against hiking its Air Passenger Duty would be “hypocritical.”
In addition, Cummings said the Jamaican government has not collected the $2 per passenger fee from cruise lines mandated under the Tourism Act. Indeed, Jamaica’s Port Authority has not been remitting the funds to the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Cummings said.
He also added that although the fees were designed to fund infrastructure improvements in resort areas, over the last three years, much of the revenue has gone to fund the Jamaica Tourist Board’s destination marketing programs. “The TEF can be successfully operated if there is proper planning and if the fund used for the purpose it was designed,” he said.