Environmental tax on cruise ships ‘could be catastrophic’
The new face leading tourism in the island has warned that an environmental tax on cruise ships could be ‘catastrophic’ for the industry locally.
Deputies Heidi Soulsby and Gavin St Pier’s self-styled ‘Fairer Alternative’ tax package includes an investigation of an emissions levy on visiting liners which could raise at least £500,000 a year.
Hannah Beacom, who leads the new tourism management board, was dismayed by the proposal and hopes it is rejected by the States next week.
‘An emissions levy on cruise liner industry visits could potentially have a catastrophic impact on this market,’ said Mrs Beacom.
‘It would show the island to be unwelcoming to the industry as a whole.
‘This is a large market for many businesses in our sector, with some wholly dependent on cruise liners. It is one of our recent success stories. Pre-lockdown we were seeing year-on-year growth.’
Deputies Soulsby and St Pier want the States' Trading Supervisory Board, which oversees the ports, to study similar levies in other places and report its findings this year.
‘We also need to be aware that, as a tender port, Guernsey is already at a disadvantage. As the liners are unable to dock, they need to transport all passengers ashore. This is an additional cost to the ship,’ said Mrs Beacom.
She is also encouraging the States to reject the Policy & Resources Committee’s proposal for a 5% goods and services tax.
‘I am greatly concerned by the proposed introduction of GST. It would be inflationary, impact on tourism’s ability to be competitive in an international market and ensure we can no longer market ourselves as a GST/VAT-free destination, one of our selling points.’
But Mrs Beacom accepted there could be room to generate more income from tourists.
‘There are conversations to have to ensure tourists contribute fully to our economy,’ she said.
‘Cruise ships pay to anchor and pay a passenger landing fee.
'These charges could be reviewed, benchmarking against ports providing similar facilities.
‘We may also want to consider a visitor levy based on accommodation type or cost.
‘Although the burden of collection would sit with businesses within the trade, there is little evidence in the countries that have introduced such charges that there has been a negative impact where they have been proportionate.’