At last

Hotels can finally access concessions

After waiting for several months, tourism-related businesses finally have access to concessions on more products used by the industry, as promised by Government more than a year ago.

Up to yesterday, they were only able to access concessions on alcoholic beverages, even though the necessary amendments were made to the Tourism Development Act (TDA) more than nine months ago to give effect to the Government’s promise.

The issue was finally resolved yesterday at a meeting involving officials of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) and the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. (BTI).

BHTA Chief Executive Officer Sue Springer made the announcement today at the association’s third quarterly general meeting at the Hilton Barbados Resort.

Describing the meeting as “very successful and cordial”, Springer reported, “the concessions for proteins have been entered into the ASYCUDA system . . . that is used at the BRA”.  This now allows hotels to apply for duty-free concessions on meats and fish.

“The process is exactly the same as the alcohol and you can start ordering from today. Of course, we also have to make sure that when we are doing the ordering, we are doing so that we do not impact on the local product and the agricultural inputs,” she added.

Springer said a full list of the protein products on which concessions are available was to be sent to BHTA members today. In addition to that list, she said it was agreed at the meeting that “a list would also be made for items that are continually being asked for”.

“If the item for renovation is not under the amended second schedule, you have to apply. When items are continually being applied for, a new listing has to be put into the ASYCUDA system with the proper customs number
. . . and this will speed up what we are doing,” explained Springer.

She said it was also agreed that the BHTA would meet with Revenue Commissioner Margaret Sivers every quarter until the system was working “smoothly”. The next meeting is scheduled for October.

Springer disclosed that the BRA would host “a tutorial” for operators in the tourism industry in an effort to help them understand the process of application for special duty free items and how that system works.

Springer also reported that the BHTA had managed to clarify other tax-related issues during yesterday’s meeting, one of which was a concern from members that value added tax (VAT) was being charged on duty-free alcohol at the rate of the pre-discounted price.

“If that was happening, it would be very difficult to reconcile your VAT payments and so on. This is not the case. The VAT is charged at the point of importation only and is charged on the pre-duty price. So that is to deal with the people who are importing the product. When that item is sold to you [the hotelier], you will be charged VAT on the selling price only,” explained Springer.

In relation to a discount on land tax for villas, Springer said the BRA would accept licenses issued by the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) for 2014 as proof of registration for the year 2014 and 2015.

“I have also had numerous questions from the hotels about whether or not you can pay your land tax without penalty up until March 2016. You can indeed. There has been no change with this. So you can at least pay the increased land tax that you all have up until March.

“We also raised a continuous issue regarding the reduction in rate of VAT to 7.5 per cent for our direct tourism services. A new solution for making the application for the reduction in the rate is currently being discussed and this will probably work very closely with the Barbados Tourism Product Authority who now has the authority for standards and registration for hotels, villas and attractions moving forward.

“So there will be some dialogue on this and it is hoped that before the winter season, that we can actually see this moving forward,” the BHTA CEO said.

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