The government of the Bahamas is proposing an increase in passenger taxes and two new tax rates, both in an effort to raise annual revenue from cruise passengers.
If all the plans go ahead, the state will raise annual revenue from cruise tourists to about $145 million, up from $50 million now.
Most Funds Will Be Effective in July 2023
The Bahamas government’s plan aims to triple annual revenue from cruise tourists visiting one of its main ports of destination, Nassau and Freeportand other charges are expected to take effect next month, according to The Tribunefrom Nassau.
These changes are detailed in the Tax Reform Bill of 2023, which is expected to be included in the state budget.
The Bahamas currently charges an $18 cruise tax, and that tax will increase by about 27%, to $23, for visitors whose ships depart from Nassau and Freeport.
The tax will increase by about 38%, rising to $25 per person, for those who leave the country by sea from a private island, without calling at another port in the country.
The hike will affect many travelers, as all major cruise lines visit individual islands in the Bahamas, and cruises often go through two major ports.
In addition, the bill creates a $5 tourist tax and an additional $2 tax on cruises upon arrival or departure at a destination. All told, each departure from Nassau and Freeport costs $30, while those departing from the private island pay $32.
As stated in the bill, all but the tourism promotion tax will take effect on July 1; Additional fees will follow on January 1, 2024.
No cruise lines have commented publicly on the proposals, and industry executives believe that major trade groups are in secret negotiations with Bahamian officials.
Nassau’s Famous Harbor Has Been Updated Recently
The Bahamas is a popular destination for almost all major cruise lines. The Nassau Cruise Port recently launched new travel historywhere more than 28,000 visitors from several lines visited in one day in February 2023.
The port also soon it has come out of a big promotion which took four years and cost $300 million. The project included the addition of new accommodation as well as the refurbishment and renovation of all grounds.
With the renovation, Nassau Cruise Port can now handle six ships a day, including Icon or Icon Oasis-class ships.
The expansion of the port increased its capacity from 20,000 passengers per day to more than 30,000 per day. The port expects to receive 4 million visitors in 2023.
Cruise Line Investment in the Bahamas Is Growing
Many of the major cruise lines have also made, or are in the process of making, significant investments in the Bahamas. Disney Cruise Line, for example, recently announced the opening of its new island at Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera, in The Bahamas, which will begin in the summer of 2024.
Plans a 700-acre beach retreat was announced in 2019, and the project represents the revenue from the cruise up to $ 400 million. The cruise line already has its own island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.
Royal Caribbean also has big plans for Nassau and is working with the Bahamian government to make it happen.
Also Read: Best Things to Do in Nassau, Bahamas
The Royal Beach Club on Paradise Island will be a public-private partnership in which Bahamians own 49% of the project, and local businesses will manage the tourist information.
The plan was approved by the government in March 2023, and the beach club is expected to open in 2025.