St John’s, Antigua:  The Chief Executive Officer of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA), Colin James, has been advised of inaccurate statements concerning the Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST) payable by hotels, and therefore, clarifies the matter.

The ABST payable by hotels from inception was made up of collections from their guests. This was levied at 10.5% for all hotel revenues.  This is significantly less than the other companies pay, but the decision was made to incentivise the tourism industry, which accounts directly for approximately 60% of the nation’s gross domestic product.

A decision was made in January 2012 to increase the chargeable and payable ABST to 12.5% with 2% of the sum to be set aside for use by the ABTA for Tourism Marketing.   It should be noted that the ABTA Board includes a high representative of the Hotels and Tourist Association.

A process was agreed by the Tourism Ministry, the Tourism Authority, The Inland Revenue Department and the Hotels and Tourist Association that two cheques would be remitted every month to Inland Revenue from each hotel.

The larger 10.5% ABST payment goes into the consolidated fund and the remaining 2% is paid into a separate account under the supervision of the Accountant General who disburses these funds to the Tourism Authority each month to be used specifically for marketing.

Some hoteliers seem to believe that the 2% that is paid separately from the 10.5% ABST is theirs; but it is not.

The entire ABST collected by Hotels, including the 2% for marketing, are revenues of the people of Antigua and Barbuda collectible by the State; no part of the ABST belongs to any hotel.   Therefore, in paying both the total of 12.5% ABST, they are simply complying with the law.

In a separate statement, I have detailed, on behalf of the Tourism Authority, precisely how decisions on spending the money from the 2% fund are taken; the procedures for accounting for every cent; and the auditing of the accounts by the international firm, KPMG, and their submission for tabling in Parliament.

The Tourism Authority has a proud record of accountability and transparency which has been in existence from its inception.