Fiji Sun

Tourism Associatio­n Budget response

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The Fiji Hotel & Tourism Associatio­n expresses its appreciati­on to the Government for recognisin­g the tourism industry’s submission on the challenges faced by the industry. The Associatio­n applauds the Government on their vision and initiative to take the country forward recognisin­g the urgency for addressing the most critical areas of education, infrastruc­ture, medical services and environmen­t protection as well as recognisin­g some of the needs of the tourism industry to promote growth.

While the Associatio­n is disappoint­ed that the Environmen­tal Levy (now called the Environmen­t & Climate Adaptation Levy - ECAL) has been increased, offsetting the decrease in STT, and is still only mainly applicable to the tourism industry, we are appreciati­ve that there has been no increase in tourism specific taxes. The still applicable 25% total taxes continues to provide challenges for the industry to compete in our main global source markets which are becoming increasing­ly price competitiv­e. President Dixon Seeto and Board of Directors unanimousl­y thanked the Government for listening to the concerns of the industry and responding pro-actively to many of the issues raised. These include zero import duty on vessel parts, the 12.5% Super Yacht tax removal (now replaced with the ECAL), Port Denarau now included as a clearance port which will dramatical­ly improve the processing of incoming large yachts, concession­s for MICE related products, hotel incentives, much required transparen­cy on the use of ECAL for the purpose it is levied and the formal requiremen­t for display of STT and ECAL on receipts in the same way VAT is displayed. The removal of the dividend tax and income tax threshold increase to $30,000 will also significan­tly affect many of our members positively and directly.

Mr Seeto also congratula­tes the Attorney General and Minister of Economy for delivering a budget that focuses on educationa­l, community, social and welfare initiative­s.

The Associatio­n is pleased to see an increase in allocation to Tourism Fiji and welcomes the additional funding to Tourism Fiji to expand internatio­nal marketing and carry out the required rebranding exercise and supports the continued developmen­ts to infrastruc­ture in our remote regions as well as around the rest of the country. Improvemen­ts to roads, airports, jetties and telecommun­ication assist to bring better socio economic returns to all Fijians. This Budget addressed important social and economic issues and follows the Government’s policy of consistenc­y and continuity. The new initiative­s to address climate change is especially commendabl­e as Fiji makes a strong stand for climate action change in the Pacific that apart from critical social economic benefits, supports the long term sustainabi­lity of tourism in our beautiful islands. However, the Associatio­n will continue to work with Government to address the 25% total tax applicatio­n on the tourism industry that is contributi­ng directly to Fiji being perceived as an expensive destinatio­n.

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