By CARA BETHEL
AN internet petition which aims to collect 1,000 signatures is urging Prime Minister Perry Christie and tourism officials to repeal the new processing fee for general aviation or face ‘devastating’ effects on the country’s tourism product.
The petition, which was sponsored by Robert Gallo, is on the website thepetitionsite.com and encourages people to sign “to stop the unfair additional fees for people visiting the Bahamas.” As of yesterday afternoon,67 people had signed up.
The petition is in response to possible fee increases which if put into effect would mean that all flights would be charged $75 for both arrival and departure, for a grand total of $150 per flight and there would be a customs service charge for planes arriving after 5pm, and before 9am, on any given day.
Additionally commercial aircraft with a seating capacity of less than 30 will be charged $50 per hour; airliners with seats numbering between 31-70 will be charged $100 per hour; and those with 71 seats or more will be charged $200 per hour.
In addition to a number of Bahamians, people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ohio, Mississippi, Florida, Delaware, Georgia, New Mexico, Ontario and Texas have joined.
Dr Ralph Bundy, a Florida resident, urged the Bahamas to not “shoot yourself in the foot,” while an anonymous user said: “We have been coming to the Bahamas for three years. If it continues to get more expensive with every little thing being over taxed we will be forced to find a different vacation location.”
Another anonymous user said: “Really, why would you do this? Greed? or you wish to kill tourism?”
Patricia Mulligan said: “These fees and the way they were enacted have the potential to destroy the small airlines servicing the Bahamas. We make two to three trips to Abaco every year on Airgate Aviation - a reliable company with excellent service for a reasonable price. We were in Green Turtle in April, and have two more Abaco trips planned for this year. On principle, if this new tax puts Airgate out of business, they will be our last.”
Chelise Brodtmann said: “The cost to get to Abaco is already sky high. This tax will cost your country the tourist dollars that it needs. Not to mention, make our three trips a year unaffordable. That is just one couple that spends over $15,000 a year in Abaco.”
Long time visitor Joseph Hamrick said: “I have been boating and flying to the Bahamas for over 45 years. Starting to rethink go to the Bahamas! Not my choice but you are pricing your self out!”