MPs submit draft legislation to parliament: UP wants higher room tax for stay-over visitors

POSTED: 10/29/13 2:55 PM

St. Maarten – United People’s party MPs Johan Leonard, Jules James and Sylvia Olivacce-Meyers have submitted their amended draft law to amend the ordinance on tax for stay-over visitors to the Secretary General of Parliament, Jozef Semeleer. The draft is expected to be distributed soon to Members of Parliament.

At the heart of the amendment is the proposal to charge stay-over visitors a room tax per night. Previously this tax was levied per week or per part of a week. This sometimes resulted in dissatisfied guests who stayed shorter than a week or maybe just one day longer: the first ended up paying the weekly $50-charge; the second would end up paying $100 for staying one day too long.

The amendment proposes to charge stay-over visitors $10 per night. “This is a more flexible system, James said yesterday. “Timeshare-owners no longer stay exactly for a week, because many have become fractional owners based on the points-system.”

James expects that the switch to a charge per night would bring a windfall to the government while at the same time it is fairer to visitors. Under the current system, the room tax yield between 4.5 and 5 million a year. The initiators expect that the amendment will result in a 2-million guilders higher room tax revenue.

In 1999, the government expanded the room tax for stay-over visitors to timeshare-owners. The tariff was set at $50 per week – which amounts to a bit more than $7 per night. In 2002, the Executive Council of the island territory already promised the Timeshare Association that it would introduce a room tax of $8 per night. Of this charge, $1 would be set aside for the privatization of the Department of Tourism. The government never executed the plan.

Corrected for inflation, the 1999 tariff of $50 would now be 36 percent higher and stand at just over $68 – or $9.71 per night. The tariff that was suggested in 2002 of $8 per night would now, corrected for inflation, stand 26.5 higher at $10.12. The tariff the initiative law suggests is therefore not a real increase but only an inflation-corrected suggestion.

Finance Minister Martin Hassink stated in a letter to MP James dated October 15 that he has no objections to the proposed amendment, “under the condition that the total revenue for the government in timeshare tax will not be negatively affected.” Hassink added that the finance department has contacted the Timeshare Association to research the financial consequences of the amendment.

The Social Economic Council (SER) suggested in its comment on the drat-legislation to transfer $3 out of the $10 nightly charge to the St. Maarten Tourism Authority (STA) and to establish the STA before the new system goes into effect. If the STA is not established when the amendment goes into effect, the SER advises to keep the tariff at $7 per night. These suggestions have not been incorporated in the draft-law.

 

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Comments (1)

 

  1. Undoubtedly, ANY changes that are brought to the table by THEO & JJ are purly to stuff their pockets with more corrupt revenue at the expense of the good visitors who used to like the island when it was known as “The Friendly Island”. Today it is all about Isle De Sol and the band of CROOKS who pollute Simpson Bay Lagoon on a daily basis!!!