Minister of Tourism, Richard ‘Ricky’ Skerritt, at the most-recent sitting of the Federal Parliament (3rd May), was successful in having two bills, the Island Enhancement Amendment Bill 2011 and the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Amendment Bill, passed into law which effected a doubling of the departure tax which is to take effect in early July.
The Minister explained that in the legislation, provision is made for the taxes to be collected by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which would be passed on to the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority, which would then be passed on to the relevant government agencies.
Another change which Minister Skerritt said would take place when the new rates take effect is the removal of tax concession for children between 2-12 years.
“One thing that is changing which I know is going to cause some debate because of the IATA requirement for simplifying the taxes, we can no longer exempt children under 12 from some of these fees. We have had to go to the international standards of exempting children under 2. So in travel terms, you may be aware Mr. Speaker or you may not be…that when we buy a ticket today for a kid over 2 years old, you are paying full fare. There is no such thing as children’s fare anymore in the world of international travel.”
The Tourism Minister explained that for years, the government has been offering the concession and bearing the burden of maintaining it.
However, as he explained, “The fact is that in the international standard now there is no such thing as a waiver. This government has been carrying that for many many years. It’s been many years that we have said children under 12 got exempted from some of these airport-related fees. I regret to inform this nation…that that, once this is implemented, will be over and will now be only children under 2. We expect that this whole operation would take…a little bit less than two months to operationalize as the agreements are finalised, documents are signed with IATA and then the airlines are informed and implementation is put in place.”
MiyVue.com understands that as it stands, residents between the ages of 2 years and 12 years pay an EC$10 departure tax which comprises of a $5 security charge and a $5 resident security charge. It is also understood that when the new system of taxation takes effect in early July, children of that age group would have to pay the same rate as adults, which is expected to double from, $50 to $100.
Children under 2 years however, will continue paying just the EC$5 tax.