lines can and should pay more tax because they are a significant competitor for
the hotel industry, according to a hospitality consultant.
at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment conference in San Juan, Puerto
Rico, Robert MacLellan said that more than half the world’s cruise ships
operated in the Caribbean during high season before moving to itineraries
elsewhere in the world.
ships today are intently focused on maximizing passenger discretionary spend –
currently estimated at around 80 percent onboard, 20 percent onshore spend –
and they operate in a virtual ‘no tax’ regime, often with government subsidised
shipbuilding costs of around US$250,000 per cabin,” noted the consultant.
governments in the Caribbean had not been renegotiating higher port taxes, said
Mr. MacLellan, whose MacLellan & Associates is the largest hospitality-based
consultancy in the Caribbean. Higher taxes, he said, should reflect higher
environmental impact from the ships plus an added public sector investment that
was required to construct deep water berths for the ever-larger cruise ships,
such as Royal Caribbean’s 5,600 capacity Oasis of the Seas and its sister ship,
contrast, he said, the costs of building high-end hotels could reach around
$500,000 per room.
hotel industry is the major tax contributor on virtually every island in the
region and, while I fully understand the financial pressures on most governments
today, some of that tax burden could be shifted to the cruise ships and would
benefit genuine long-term resort investors on-island.
the foreseeable future, there is no replacement for the Caribbean archipelago
for winter cruise itineraries – that is, a range of alternative ports, offering
sufficient attractions, with spare handling capacity and within cruising range
of the lines’ principal feeder markets. The cruise lines can afford to pay more
and, with tough negotiations, they will pay more,” he said.