Government "Seriously Considering" BHA Recommendations

The Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) has been informed that the Prime Minister is "giving serious consideration" to its recommendation that requirements, which must be met under the Hotels Encouragement Act to enable hotels to access materials for infrastructure upgrades duty free, be eased.

Frank Comito, the BHA's executive vice-president, said tourism stakeholders were informed this was the case by Minister of Tourism, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, at the BHA's Annual General Meeting earlier this month.

At the end of November, Mr Comito released the results of a survey undertaken by the BHA, which showed that more than 90 per cent of hoteliers would undertake capital upgrades in short order, potentially pouring an estimated $40-$50 million into the Bahamian economy, if the Government were to relax the requirements necessary for them to access incentives for such work under the Hotel Encouragement Act.

As a consequence of the survey's results, the BHA issued a call for government to consider an amendment to the Hotels Encouragement Act to temporarily eliminate the requirement that hoteliers must invest in upgrades equivalent to 25 per cent of the value of their property in order to access duty incentives on materials related to those upgrades.

The survey was undertaken by "a strong sampling of the nation's hotels, particularly smaller properties", and involved them answering three questions with a view to determining "the extent to which hotel upgrades and refurbishments could be stimulated with a change in the existing Hotels Encouragement Act investment requirement".

Eighty per cent of hotel properties surveyed said they had "put a hold on refurbishments, capital improvements or upgrades during the past two years due to economic conditions".

Mr Comito suggested the stimulus from the proposed amendment to the Act would be felt especially in the Family Islands, where many of the properties surveyed were located.

The Tribune
December 28, 2010