If you’re planning on heading to Barbados on holidays, you will need to factor into your budget three new taxes that are being imposed on tourists. The beautiful Caribbean island, which was chosen as the destination that leaves travellers more satisfied than anywhere else in the world, is introducing these taxes to raise money to help reduce its huge deficit, which is currently running at 170% of GDP (gross domestic product).
The first charge is a mandatory hotel room rate levy that has been immediately implemented. It ranges from $2.50 (£1.90) to $10 (£7.60) per room per night, depending on accommodation class. This is bad news for those who have already booked and paid for accommodation in Barbados as they will still have to pay this charge at their hotel or resort, according to the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport. Some hotels have indicated that they will absorb the charges for those currently staying with them, but others may not be in a position to do so.
The second tax is an airline travel and tourism development fee of $70 (£53), which will be levied on travellers leaving the country from 1 October. The third tax relates to Value Added Tax (VAT) in the tourism sector, which will rise from 7.5% to 15% in 2020. Prime Minister Mia Mottley revealed the taxes in her recent austerity budget, and hopes it will help address the country’s stark deficit. Several tour operators have already voiced their unhappiness at having to let people who have already booked know of the additional charges.
Whether this trio of new taxes puts visitors off visiting the popular island nation remains to be seen. At present, tourism contributes up to 40% of Barbados’s GDP, which is the 14th-highest percentage in the world. This is unsurprising as while it’s justifiably famed for its fantastic beaches, fine powdery sand and brilliant turquoise bays, the island is also renowned for its nightlife, the Unesco World Heritage-listed capital of Bridgetown, and beautiful interior dotted with gardens, all inhabited by welcoming people.