Tourism funding boosted by $2.3m
The Bermuda Tourism Authority has been given a boost in the budget, but the island’s hotels are set to lose concessions.
Finance minister Bob Richards revealed that the Tourism Authority Grant will rise from $22.7 million to $25 million.
However, he also announced that payroll tax concessions for hotels, restaurants and retailers would all be lifted.
“In fiscal year 2014-15 non-legislated concessions to hotels, retailers and restaurants totalled approximately $31 million,” Mr Richards said. “The roll back of these concessions was started in fiscal year 2015-16 and in this fiscal year Government will fully withdraw all such concessions.”
The Chamber of Commerce had asked the Government to consider extending payroll tax relief for restaurants for another year. As reported in The Royal Gazette on Saturday, president John Wight expressed concern that the costs would hit the public.
“Those people who will benefit initially from paying lower payroll taxes, and in fact all residents, will start paying more for goods and services,” Mr Wight said.
Mr Richards praised the hard work of the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
“The practical impact of tourism’s growth in 2016 was a 10 per cent jump in hotel occupancy and an 18 per cent jump in spending by air and cruise visitors, to $266.6 million from $225.7 million in 2015,” he said. “This is money going into local businesses and paycheques, supporting day-to-day lives of Bermudians.
“Another aspect of Bermuda tourism’s turnaround is the increased interest in Bermuda from an investment standpoint.”
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