MPs pass new law adding fee to holiday rentals
New fees on the holiday rental market have been criticised by the Opposition as hitting tourism while the industry lingers in recovery mode from the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Vance Campbell, the tourism minister, told the House of Assembly on Friday: “We believe these fees are nor exorbitant, nor are they prohibitive.”
Mr Campbell added that the Government saw “no adverse impact on the number of vacation rentals on the market”.
The Vacation Rental (Application and Registration) Fees Act 2023 will be an annual fee charged to a property owners based on its annual rental value.
Properties with an ARV below $22,800 will pay $1,500 annually, those valued between $22,801 to $90,000 will pay $2,000 – with a $2,500 yearly fee for property valued at $90,001 and above.
Mr Campbell said the highest rate amounted to $208 per month.
But Craig Cannonier of the One Bermuda Alliance responded: “A greater concern I have with this Bill is the timing of it.
“I recognise this is a few fee being implemented in the industry – not just vacation rentals but tourism.”
Mr Cannonier said the island was struggling to regain its 2019 figures in tourism.
He added: “And in my opinion, they were not good at all.”
Mr Cannonier said the revenue would likely add up to about $500,000 annually.
“We’ve had consultation and they’re concerned about it.”
Wayne Furbert, the transport minister, said that he rented out an Airbnb property – and threw his support behind the legislation.
He said taxes were never popular but the Government needed to improve services and the living standard of the country.
Mr Furbert told MPs that “these type of taxes are in every country you can think of”.
“The benefit for vacation rental is extremely high. And if you want, you can pass on the cost to customers.”
Mr Furbert said the best way to boost revenue as a holiday rental owner was to push for high ratings on the customer review.
Scott Pearman of the One Bermuda Alliance signalled that the Opposition would not back the legislation.
Mr Campbell said: “For some, it’s never a good time to charge a fee. The one thing I have not heard addressed so far is individuals who have been participating have had no fee to pay.
“We are coming to the beginning of a new year for the Government, at a time when we consider making changes. With this Government, we have made a decision to lower taxes in many area and raise taxes in a few areas.
“It was felt that the fee we determined to put in place for vacation rentals, the amounts we have spoken of were very reasonable.”
Mr Campbell said there were almost as many unregistered properties being used for vacation rental as those who had followed the law.
“We will look to address that as we introduce this fee,” he added.
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