This follows the passage of a Bill in the lower house on Tuesday.
Premier Dr. Orland Smith, who piloted the bill in the open House of Assembly said the fees will be charged in tickets .
“An environmental levy at the rate of $10 shall be levied on and payable by each visitor arriving in the Virgin Islands by air or sea.
A specified sum of money shall be included in the cost of a ticket collected by the owner, master or any agent for any vessel, or by any person through whom passengers are brought into the Virgin Islands,” states Clause 3 of the Bill.
However, this was not taken well by opposition legislators Julian Fraser and Andrew Fahie who cautioned against the government’s appetite for price increases, saying that the move could discourage visitors from coming to the territory.
They also had questions about the collection of the funds.
“When you talk about the owner of a carrier collecting the government money, you not going to get it,” Fraser said.
He also said that purposes for which the new levy will be spent are too broad.
“The categories are broad; they are not conclusive; they are just broad…. Very little of it will go towards the environment unless it’s specified here in the Act what percentage of it shall go towards the environment… And I do not agree that it (a portion of the new fee) should go towards the promotion of tourism,” he added.
But in response, the Premier said the $10 will not be too onerous for visitors.
“In many cases, especially in Europe, a similar fee is applied daily for each day of the visit. But, here in the BVI, it should be a one-off fee for the visit,” he said.
Premier Smith also noted that a penalty is proposed in the Bill for the operators of airlines, ferries and other carriers who collect the environmental levy from visitors, but refuse to pay them over to Government.
In response, junior Minister of Tourism Archibald Christian, said he thinks tourists would be willing to pay the additional $10, adding that if it were up to him, residents would also be required to pay the environmental levy.
- Countries: British_Virgin_Islands