Minister says any discretionary breaks for resorts will go before MPs
Concessions for the development of resorts will be given on a “case-by-case basis”, the tourism minister said, after the announcement of greater ministerial powers to grant relief for the industry.
At a press conference today on the Throne Speech, Vance Campbell said the amendments to the Tourism Investment Act 2017 would give him the discretion to “apply a formula for the grant of relief that matches the economic importance of the investment in our tourism product”.
The existing legislation provides for relief from costs such as occupancy and payroll tax for a period not exceeding ten years.
The amendments, revealed in the Throne Speech last Friday, will enable the minister to give breaks up to a maximum of 15 years — although he said not all developers would need that much.
He said he would finalise details in the weeks ahead, and would bring the amendments to the House of Assembly after Cabinet approval.
“If we are offering anything other than that ten years, it would have to be a special Act,” Mr Campbell said. “We are trying to avoid that by amending the legislation.”
Mr Campbell said any breaks offered to resorts would continue to go before the House of Assembly.
He highlighted the development of the Fairmont Southampton Hotel by Gencom as the “standout”.
Mr Campbell said the concessions for the hotel, Bermuda’s biggest resort, would cover “the existing building — that’s as far as we take our remit”.
On the subject of further developments such as housing at the Fairmont Southampton’s golf course, Mr Campbell said: “Any other plans would have to go through the existing planning process under a different ministry.”
Mr Campbell declined to state whether the development deal for the $376 million refurbishment of the resort would be completed by the end of this year.
“You would have to direct that to Gencom,” he said.
He singled out the cost of construction and the island’s operating costs as an impediment to hotel development on the island.
“We have seen increases in the cost of construction as a result of supply-chain issues in the last couple of years.”
Mr Campbell said the island needed to show that “we are serious about attracting investment and serious about creating a tourism product in accommodation, restaurants and attractions that justify the price point we demand”.
“The interest is there — we must cultivate it and bring it to reality.”