Tourism operator appeals against tax increases

Rosie Travel Group managing director Tony Whitton makes a submission during the National budget consultation in Nadi. Picture: REINAL CHAND

Local tourism operator Tony Whitton has requested the Government not to increase the current excise duties on importations of beers, wines and spirits in the national budget to maintain Fiji’s competitiveness in the international markets.

His recommendations followed the most recent public submissions from citizens in the lead up to the National Budget announcement later this month.

“We are also requesting airport departure taxes to be maintained, as Fiji is predominantly a family market and any increase in departure taxes puts pressure on air ticket prices.

“With our Asian competitors like Thailand and Bali now fully opening up along with our destination, Fiji has to remain competitive to maintain this trajectory of visitor growth.

“Tourism growth means more jobs, more government revenue; a contraction will have the opposite effect.”

The Rosie Travel Group and Ahura Resorts managing director says tourism operators are willing to support the Government’s efforts to ensure that all businesses that benefit from tourism are fully tax compliant.

He also suggested that one area to look into are apartments and homes that are listed on online market place sites such as AirBnB, where local property owners list their homes or units for short-term rental to international visitors.

Mr Whitton says the tourism sector is the backbone of the local economy contributing close to 35 per cent of Fiji’s GDP and providing over 50,000 jobs directly and indirectly.

“International visitors bring in foreign currency into our country that helps pay for imports but also generates significant economic benefits to households, businesses and government tax revenue.”

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