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Industry in 'active' talks with Bahamas over cruise fee hikes

Article-Industry in 'active' talks with Bahamas over cruise fee hikes

A busy day at Nassau Cruise Port
Cruise fees would soar to a total of $30 or $32 per person, up from $18 now, under proposed Bahamas legislation.

'We have been advised of the fees being considered and are in active discussions with country officials to better understand the changes and determine a mutually beneficial path forward,' Michele Paige, CEO of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, told Seatrade Cruise News.

Several major cruise companies either deferred to the FCCA or did not respond to requests for comment on the increases.

Head tax hike, new environmental and tourism development levies

The Passenger Tax Amendment Bill 2023 would raise the $18 head tax to $23 for each passenger leaving The Bahamas via Nassau and Freeport and to $25 for those who leave by sea from a private island without visiting another port in the country.

The bill also introduces a $5 tourism environmental levy for arriving or departing cruisers.

In addition, a $2 per person tourism enhancement levy would apply to passengers arriving in or leaving The Bahamas.

New Tourism Development Corporation legislation

This enhancement levy is related to new Tourism Development Corporation legislation that Deputy Prime Minister/Tourism Minister Chester Cooper told Seatrade Cruise Review magazine in an earlier interview would help create new product to support the cruise industry.

John H.W. Pinder, parliamentary secretary of tourism, investments & aviation, added the legislation is intended to help Bahamian entrepreneurs navigate the legal, insurance and other requirements to 'bring their dream to fruition while creating new offerings that are safe and reliable.' 

So, for each cruiser, the proposed head tax hike and additional fees would total $30, up from $18, if leaving The Bahamas via Nassau and Freeport, or $32 if leaving from a private island without visiting another port in the country.

Planned implementation dates

According to The Tribune, the tourism enhancement levy would kick in Jan. 1, 2024, while the other increases would take effect this July.

An unnamed source in The Bahamas told the Tribune the cruise lines would 'go ballistic' over the increases.

So far, their public reaction has been muted.

Massive cruise infrastructure development

The proposed hikes come at a time of enormous growth and investment in cruise-related projects in The Bahamas. These include the recent grand opening of the transformed Nassau Cruise Port and, coming soon, Carnival Cruise Line's new Grand Bahama destination and Disney Cruise Line's new Lighthouse Point.

Carnival is also building a new addition with pier on Little San Salvador, home to Holland America Line’s Half Moon Cay. Hideaway Beach at Royal Caribbean's Perfect Day at CocoCay is opening late this year, and its planned Royal Beach Club on Paradise Island is going through an environmental impact assessment.

Independent developers are advancing a brand-new destination, Calypso Cove on Long Island, that will be open to all cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean, ITM Group and MSC Cruises are reportedly proposing to expand the berthing and appeal of Freeport Harbour. A Marine Conservation Center with its important 'super coral' project is Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve's latest development.

Norwegian Cruise Line got the green light to build a pier at Great Stirrup Cay, cruising's original private island since 1977, though the company hasn't disclosed a timetable.

Bahamas developments feature in the cover story of Seatrade Cruise Review's June issue, out soon

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