You are already paying $60 in passenger service charges to leave the country.
The Turks and Caicos Islands Government will soon be charging a $10 destination management fee for all tourists and residents arriving to the Turks and Caicos by air. I know there are a lot of concerns particularly among the locals as to why they must pay $10 to return home, but the thing is we are also paying $60 to return home and this has been so for years.
Personally, I think the $10 is a great initiative for additional source of income for the DMO (Destination Management Organization), however, I think only visitors should be paying the $10.
Why should only visitors pay?
I know the Government said that the $10 fee is to “ensure sustainable development, preserve natural resources and support the local government.” However, the $10 is really for the DMO and I believe the main purpose of the DMO is to promote the Turks and Caicos Islands.
I always felt that the Tourist Board was underfunded as most of the funds that the Government provided to the Tourist Board was used to pay employees and not even a million dollars was available for marketing.
Therefore, an additional fee of $10 per visitor can help to subsidize the DMO budget so that the organization can properly promote the destination. Because this $10 is for the DMO, then I think only visitors should pay because the DMO is directly to the benefits of the visitors, of course the residents will benefit indirectly too but we are already paying through the Government subvention to the DMO.
This will be no different from the accommodation taxes. Not all restaurants in the Turks and Caicos charge and pay accommodation taxes. If you are not located in a tourism zone area or most of your guests are not tourists, then you do not have to charge and pay the 12% accommodation taxes.
There are other ways to collect the $10 without imposing on the residents.
The current plan is for the $10 to be included in the tickets and so the airlines will collect the $10 and then pay it over to the Government, as is currently being done with passenger service charges. Currently, all passengers (except if you are under two) leaving the Turks and Caicos Islands must pay $60, comprising of $20 for airport development charges, security $8, a $29 departure tax and $3 airport terminal user fee. This $60 is for the benefit of the airport, however, the $10 is for the DMO.
I don’t think the $10 has to be included in the tickets. I think the same way that the hotels, villas, and restaurants collect the 12% taxes and then pay it to Government the following month by the 21st, I think they can also collect the $10 on behalf of the Government and then turn it over to the DMO. Through this method, only the visitors will pay and not residents.
The thing is with putting the $10 on the ticket price, everyone will have to pay because the airline does not and will not distinguish between visitors and residents.
I know there may be some sort of lack of trust with some of the villas and hotels as it is believed that some are not reporting the taxes collected or they are charging the taxes but not paying them to the Government. Well, this is where compliance comes in and must ensure that the reported and expected money collected must be paid over to the Government.
You see by allowing the villas and hotels to collect the $10, the residents will not get charged unless they stay at a villa.
To counteract this $10 charge on the ticket, the Government has increased the allowable duty exemption when returning home from $400 to $1,000. This is good if you have purchased things abroad and bring them back with you. However, if you are shipping your items on the boat, this does not apply to you. Furthermore, if you are travelling to other countries where you know you will not be buying anything, then the $1,000 duty exemption will not benefit it.
Mind you it is a good gesture, but it is not workable in all cases of travelling.
Other countries are imposing arrival fee.
Yes, other countries such as the Bahamas, Jamaica and Dominican Republic are imposing similar fees but in Turks and Caicos, this fee is directly for the DMO and so the visitors should pay and not the residents.
I know $10 is not a lot of money but the purpose for which the $10 is collected for should be absorbed by the people that it caters to, and we know that this $10 is for the DMO to promote and encourage tourists to come to the Turks and Caicos Islands.