January 23, 2012

Radio Australia: Fiji defends raising departure tax

Once again the illegal and treasonous military regime, their cohorts and spineless groupies  continue to rain down on Fiji more desperate acts of economic sabotage

The lame justification that the hiked departure taxes will bring in extra dough for infrastructure upgrades rings kind of hollow seeing as the regimes grand machinations to float more junk bonds domestically for the same objectives have obviously fizzled out before it even started.

Now that we recall it all, as far back as February 2007 we had exposed all these big ideas such as culling of over-55ers; civil service pay cuts; reduced subsidies to provinces, religious bodies, social and sports bodies, USP, schools; rented properties AS WELL as the their mulling over departure tax levies, were already being bandied about. And the discussion revealing these strategies was held in the presence of public sector unions.

Updated January 23, 2012 18:22:15

The Fiji government is defending the lifting of the tax levied on departing visitors.

It's gone up from 100 Fiji dollars to 150.

That's prompted one major travel company, Flight Centre in New Zealand, to offer customers who've already booked a holiday in Fiji the chance to switch their deposits to another vacation destination instead.

Fiji's permanent secretary for Tourism, Elizabeth Powell, says the increase is not that much really, and Fiji needs the money to maintain things like roads and bridges.

Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Fiji's permanent secretary for Tourism, Elizabeth Powell
Listen here

POWELL: There's been a lot of work undertaken on the roads and bridges and electricity, water supply, all sorts of utilities and facilities, public facilities that the government has been investing in and there's evidence of it everywhere that the roads have improved, still got a ways to go yet, but certainly you'll see huge differences. There has to be money to pay for this from somewhere. In order to make sure that we enhance our visitors experience of our country, we've got to make sure that the facilities are there to cater for their transportation and stay while they're here. So in order to do that we've got to raise the funds and this is where some of this money is going to. So it's to improve their quality of the experience while they're here in our country. From $100 Fijian, while that sounds rather large to anyone. When you translate that into local money, like in Australia and New Zealand and in New Zealand, for instance, I understand is around 60 odd dollars which is about 30 dollars for each flight, each way, which is really not that big a contribution or an increase. And in actual fact Bruce, a couple of years ago, I think there was another increase in the departure tax. It's once you get to that triple digit, I think people start reacting very strongly.

HILL: Well, there has been some reaction already. Flight Centre in New Zealand is quite upset by this and they're actually offering their passengers who prebooked flights and holidays to Fiji the chance to transfer the deposits to other destinations in the Pacific. Are you concerned about that kind of reaction?

POWELL: I am concerned about it. I mean we are concerned, but it's a matter of curiosity, because it seems like an emotive reaction. Flight Centre's attempting to perhaps sway the decision of peoples destination choice. If the value of Fiji to a New Zealand visitor is $60 difference, then certainly I'm sure they will be swayed. But our doors are open and we're continuing to welcome our New Zealand friends and neighbours to our country and bringing this down to this amount of money is really interesting to me on a sort of business level. I think also that it's curious that a couple of years ago Bruce, we increased the departure tax and there wasn't a word from anyone. Why now that this is that Flight Centre particularly there hasn't been any comment as far as I know from anyone else and certainly no such severe response except for Flight Centre's New Zealand and I'm sure they have their reasons and we respect that, but we also have to be pragmatic. I mean sure that what we're offering our visitors is a quality product.

HILL: Do you think the increase in the departure tax would cause tourists or potential tourists to Fiji to look elsewhere or do you think that it won't have any real affect on their decision?

POWELL: I would be surprised if it did have such a severe affect. Like with anything, I think initially people are a little concerned when there is a price increase. We're all like that. I mean I am if there's a price increase of something that I use. I think the thing is that it could be a concern if you haven't budget for it in terms of the notice may be could be the concern, but there are ways of getting around that as well. I don't think it's such a huge amount to really make a huge impact. It could be that it's now reached a three digit number in terms of local Fijian currency, which as I said before is not in terms of New Zealand or Australian currency that much of a difference.

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