A call is being made by chief executive officer of Carvalho’s Cruise Services Ltd, Charles Carvalho, for the Government to remove Value-Added Tax (VAT) from the cruise ship industry in the upcoming budget.

Speaking to the Express yesterday, on the improvements he would like to see in the 2023 budget on Monday, Carvalho said in 1985 legislation was passed for cargo vessels to be zero-rated for VAT. He believes it is high time VAT is removed from cruise ships that bring in US currency.

“I don’t think that, when VAT was introduced, the term used for outer vessels would have meant cruise ships and yachts. I have noticed just recently that VAT was removed from the yachting industry, but not on the cruise industry. We must do all in our power to attract the cruise ship lines to revisit our shores,” Carvalho emphasised.

He noted that, in recent times, the world has started taking global warming seriously and the cruise lines have already started cutting back on carbon emissions and building new ships to use natural gas and methanol. The cruise industry is also encouraging ports to adopt to shore power, meaning that when a cruise ship is in port, it will connect to the grids of the country.

“I was pleased to see the Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in a recent news conference indicating that Trinidad would soon be a major ship refuelling destination with methanol,” he said.

Carvalho said he would like to see the tourism industry turn its marketing efforts towards the cruise passengers and not towards the cruise lines.

“It’s the passengers’ demand for ships to include Trinidad and Tobago in their itineraries that would make the difference. This I am sure, would see additional cruise ships calling at our three cruise ports within Trinidad and Tobago,” he outlined.

Additionally, the executive is of the firm view that the Ministry of Tourism, Cultural and the Arts needs a bigger share of the national budget that can go towards “marketing and upgrading of sites and attractions.”

Carvalho explained that those additional resources must be specific and not go towards local sponsorship on events.

“Those events should have their own marketing budget. By increasing the ministry’s budget, we would now see it getting the attention it has been lacking for too long,” he added.