EDITOR, The Tribune.
I am sorry to be beating the Airbnb drum again but one has to wonder if our Minister of Tourism even understands this business, or why the Government would waste its very scarce legal resources, in order to legislate a tax to be levied on 1,200, mostly Bahamian people in a population of nearly 400,000. Maybe 3/10’s of one per cent of the population.
The Minister also knows that successive Bahamas Governments, on both sides of the political divide, have greatly contributed to the demise of the traditional hotel. What they haven’t taxed, they have allowed public services like electricity, to become so overpriced, that the hotels can no longer compete with other jurisdictions. Why not spend some of your Ministerial time on fixing that little problem, sir?
Perhaps you should legislate a tax on Cruise Ship passengers or force the Cruise Lines to pay the total departure tax that they collect to the country, rather than them taking a cut on it. I bet that would produce far more revenue than the 1,200 Airbnb Hosts would.
Yes, the Government can easily bring the legislation, and granted, where they cannot or will not collect Real Property Tax (RPT) from an enormous taxable population comparatively, Airbnb would take the money and just drop it in the Treasury’s bank account. Whereas with RPT they would actually have to do something to collect this. It is the easiest thing in the world to kill a baby, and it doesn’t take very much of an effort.
You could simply cover its nose and mouth for a few minutes and it would be dead. You could drop it on its head from a high place and it would likely die as well. But just because you have the power, or strength to do it, doesn’t make it moral or right. Airbnb has blossomed before our very eyes. It is an extremely price sensitive business and it is a global business.
And No, the Airbnb Guest does not HAVE to come here. There are thousands of other destinations and a lot are as good, or better than The Bahamas. We don’t even have a reliable or consistent public transport system, which is one of the greatest detractions to Airbnb Guests in this country. Why don’t you put some effort into that ,Mr. Minister, and then you could legitimately say the Government has some skin in the game. Right now it doesn’t even have a dirty toenail.
It is not as if the Airbnb Guest has a tax free holiday in The Bahamas. They pay Government duty just like the Host does, and they pay VAT, just like the Host does. And they rent cars because there is no bus system, and they go on tours to local attractions, and they take trips to Harbour Island and Exuma and various other islands, and they go to the Fish Fry, and they pay the full Government departure tax, and the only thing they don’t pay tax on is the AIR, SUN and SEA. But now you want to tax that too. OMG !
Maybe we’ve gone from the frying pan into the fire.
BRUCE G RAINE
August 14, 2016.