While admitting that problems faced in the tourism sector will not be miraculously lifted, President of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA) Gregor Nassief, notes that the doubling of the country’s tourism marketing budget could assist in alleviating these issues.
Nassief told a press conference at the Waterfall Room at the Fort Young Hotel on Tuesday morning that the DHTA would like to see Dominica double its budget in marketing the destination.
“If St. Lucia is spending a $1.20 per stay over visitor, Barbados is spending $3.20 and we are spending $0.50, I would like to get to a $1.00,” Nassief stated. “And if we do that, instead of spending $0.50 per stay-over visitor, we will be spending $1.00. So the DHTA would like to see the $4-million destination marketing budget, as a start, doubled to $8-million.”
He is of the opinion that the increase will not automatically alleviate all the tourism sector’s problems.
“But you can’t just throw funds at the problem. We also need to rethink how we are marketing and the DHTA completely supports the initiative of the DDA (Discover Dominica Authority) and working in sync with everyone to rethink our marketing capabilities and strategies,” he stated.
Meantime, the DHTA is also calling for a harmonization of taxes on the tourism industry with a flat rate of 7.5 percent across the board.
“Our VAT (Value Added Tax) rate is 10 percent rooms and 15 percent on everything else,” Nassief said, pointing out that in neighboring islands such as Barbados and St. Lucia there are a 7.5 percent and 10 percent rate respectively across the board.
“We would like as an industry to get to 7.5 percent and again it has to be done in the context of all of us believing tourism represents Dominica’s future and in terms of being able to carry our economy for the next 10 or 15 years,” Nassief said. “The sector needs support, we need to be competitive.”
The hotelier said that although the country operates on revenue that the VAT brings in, “at the same time we would like to work with the authorities, so within one year or two years, we could begin to see a harmonization.”
“So the 10 and the 15 percent will be one rate across the board and lower rates can assist us with competitiveness going forward,” he said.
The issues of vagrancy, improved air and sea access among others, are also affecting the sector, according to Nassief.