Bahamas government delays implementation of cruise tax hike

The Bahamas government has delayed a tax hike on cruise passengers until January 2024, according to Bahamas media reports. The tax increase had been expected to kick in on July 1. 

Both Eye Witness News and The Tribune in The Bahamas report that tourism minister Chester Cooper said officials considered concerns from cruise lines in delaying the tax increase. 

“One of the issues were that they wanted to be able to recapture all of the taxes from their customers, etc. I won’t go into all of the details in terms of what their representations were. Suffice to say, we’ve already given a seven-month delay in the implementation of the tax,” Cooper said Thursday. 

By implementing the tax in January, he said cruise lines now have seven months’ notice on the tax. He added that cruise lines are important partners “but our taxes are essential to build roads and schools and docks and to revitalize Bay Street,” a shopping destination in Nassau.

Government officials reportedly met with cruise officials in Florida last Friday, according to the Tribune.

The government announced the increase in June, with most increases to go into effect in July. The tax per cruise passenger would increase to $23 from $18 for Nassau and Freeport calls. That tax would be higher, $25, if the cruise calls at a private island without stopping at Freeport or Nassau.

The government had also sought to impose a $5 tourism environmental tax and a $2 tourism enhancement tax per passenger. Those taxes also will go into effect in January. 

Cruise lines have been reticent to comment on the tax proposal. Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy told Travel Weekly aboard the Carnival Venezia’s inaugural sailing out of New York that she wanted to see the tax delayed. 

Free National Movement party leader Michael Pintard, who is a member of the Bahamas Parliament, warned on Wednesday that if the government raises taxes too much too fast, cruise lines may decide to visit less expensive destinations, The Tribune reported. 

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