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OBA calls for an end to travel authorisation form ‘stealth tax’

Backlog: Government says it is working to clear a backlog of TA applications. (File photograph)

The One Bermuda Alliance yesterday called on the Government to end the “stealth tax” travel authorisation forms.

It came as the Government said it was working to try and clear a backlog of Travel Authorisation applications caused by problems with e-mails and an outage to its website.

This afternoon the shadow health minister, Michael Dunkley, said that given the backlog issues, the OBA “again calls for the ending of the stealth tax in the form of the Travel Authorisation application”.

He added: “Over the past week I have been contacted repeatedly by travellers who have experienced issues. While we appreciate the work of all involved in the process, it is time the Travel Authorisation form is eliminated.

“It has served its purpose and now as we learn to live with Covid, we need to get back to a more normal life and remove what is now a hassle in travel and a possible drawback or disincentive for travellers to the island.

“The TA is now an expensive bureaucratic inconvenience.”

Mr Dunkley claimed it was easier to travel from Bermuda to the US, with no tax attached to it. “It is clear why the PLP government does not want to eliminate this tax – it helps fund a government that has a deficit budget.

“Government estimates show that during the last financial year they would earn $14 million from TA application, after they budgeted to earn $4.2 million. In the current financial year, the Government has estimated it will raise $22 million from this tax imposed by the PLP.

“During the recent Budget Debate, I spoke extensively about this matter including what competing jurisdictions are doing and what Bermudians and people who work in the international business sector are communicating to me.”

A government spokeswoman said the backlog issue had been exacerbated by an increase in TA requests due to the start of the cruise ship season.

A spokeswoman said: “The Government of Bermuda recently experienced delays with its Microsoft Outlook account and an outage to gov.bm.

“This has impacted the Travel Authorisation process, causing some travellers to have experienced a delay in receiving their TAs.

“At the same time, the volume of TA requests has increased with the start of the cruise ship season.”

She said the call centre was “working to manage the increased calls and e-mails” and that there was a backlog of TAs to be processed with the priority to address those flights for today and tomorrow.

The spokeswoman added: “Per the requirements set out in Bermuda legislation, all travellers to Bermuda need an approved Travel Authorisation to enter Bermuda.

“The TA team are working around the clock to meet the welcomed demand of increased travel to Bermuda and mitigate the effects of the unexpected system outage earlier this week.

“They are making very good progress and we ask travellers to please be patient.”

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Published April 11, 2022 at 8:03 am (Updated April 11, 2022 at 8:03 am)

OBA calls for an end to travel authorisation form ‘stealth tax’

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