Fel­tom protests at lack of con­sul­ta­tion on bed tax

The Malta Business Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

Over the past days, Fel­tom has em­barked on a num­ber of con­sul­ta­tions so as to put for­ward con­cerns and rec­om­men­da­tions that are based on fact and in­for­ma­tion avail­able.

Over the past days, Fel­tom has em­barked on a num­ber of con­sul­ta­tions so as to put for­ward con­cerns and rec­om­men­da­tions that are based on fact and in­for­ma­tion avail­able.

Fel­tom wel­comes the an­nounce­ment made by gov­ern­ment dur­ing the Bud­get speech re­gard­ing the Ed­u­ca­tion Malta ini­tia­tive. As the lo­cal as­so­ci­a­tion fo­cused on the In­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of Ed­u­ca­tion, Fel­tom, the Fed­er­a­tion of English Lan­guage Teach­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tions Malta, looks for­ward to be­ing in­volved in this ini­tia­tive and its even­tual ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion.

How­ever, while Fel­tom re­it­er­ates its sat­is­fac­tion at gov­ern­ment’s rec­om­men­da­tions with re­gards to ed­u­ca­tion and the tourism industry in gen­eral, the or­gan­i­sa­tion would like to ex­press its reser­va­tions with some is­sues and the tim­ing of their im­ple­men­ta­tion.

The main reser­va­tion con­cerns the newly pro­posed En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­tri­bu­tion of €0.50 per night per tourist with ef­fect from 1 April 2016 ap­pli­ca­ble for all in­com­ing tourists over the age of 18.

Al­though Fel­tom has no is­sue with any form of eco-con­tri­bu­tion and ac­knowl­edges that tourism has an im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment that needs to be ad­dressed, and the es­ti­mated gen­er­a­tion of an in­come of €6m is one way of do­ing that, the fed­er­a­tion is con­cerned by the fact that stake­hold­ers seem to not have been con­sulted in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process that led to this pro­posal and there­fore is­sues with its im­ple­men­ta­tion are still un­clear not to men­tion wor­ri­some.

Fel­tom is con­cerned with the tim­ing of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of this mea­sure. As with all tour op­er­a­tors, ELT Or­gan­i­sa­tions have had their price lists pub­lished for 2016 (in­clud­ing taxes and con­tri­bu­tions) since early this year and since this industry is nearly en­tirely based on group book­ings or book­ings through agents, tak­ing into ac­count that the av­er­age length of stay for an ELT stu­dent is 22 days and that 60% of stu­dents are over 18, this can eas­ily mean, look­ing at industry statis­tics, that this will trans­late into an un­bud­geted cost of circa €250,000 for 2016 for industry, im­pact­ing di­rectly on the profit line of the or­gan­i­sa­tions since they will in fact in 2016, be ab­sorb­ing such con­tri­bu­tion.

There­fore, Fel­tom would like a clar­i­fi­ca­tion on who will be col­lect­ing this new eco-con­tri­bu­tion, how will it be col­lected and whether there is any room for ne­go­ti­a­tion for those schools/tour op­er­a­tors that of­fer pack­age deals to be ex­empt from 2016. The fed­er­a­tion pro­poses that this mea­sure is im­ple­mented for in­di­vid­ual trav­els as sug­gested, how­ever, ex­empts pre­paid trav­ellers for 2016.

Fur­ther to this, while Fel­tom recog­nises gov­ern­ment’s ap­point­ment of MHRA as the ad­min­is­tra­tors of said fund, it would also like gov­ern­ment to ac­knowl­edge those stake­hold­ers that are in fact re­spon­si­ble for ac­tu­ally at­tract­ing tourists with a quan­tifi­able and sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of bed nights, such as Fel­tom with 13% of all bed nights, as stake­hold­ers that should also be con­sulted on the ad­min­is­tra­tion of this fund.

Over and above th­ese is­sues, Fel­tom also out­lines the fact that the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of tourists over/un­der 18 years of age, will add a fur­ther ad­min­is­tra­tive cost on the party tasked with col­lec­tion, an is­sue which seems not to be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion, and al­though recog­nis­ing that this dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion may have been with good in­ten­tions, any dif­fer­en­ti­a­tions, whether with cap­ping or with age cre­ates an un­ten­able ad­min­is­tra­tive bur­den that needs to be ad­dressed.

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