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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, December 1, 2023


The cruise ship industry is gearing up to fight Sen. Roosevelt David's proposal to add $2.50 to the $7.50 fee now collected on each cruise-ship passenger entering St. Thomas.
Under David's plan, the $2.50 would be collected by the West Indian Co. Ltd. and transferred to the General Fund.
Currently, $3.50 of the $7.50 fee goes to WICO and the remaining $4 to the V.I. Port Authority, according to Calvin Wheatley of WICO.
Michele Paige, director of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, wrote a letter Feb. 16 saying she was shocked and concerned about the latest effort to hike the passenger head tax.
Paige's letter, according to Friday's Independent, went to St. Croix Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen and said "the devastating news of a head tax increase must be inaccurate, as it could negatively affect the number of cruise ships and number of passengers coming into the U.S.V.I."
Paige was responding to a letter Hansen wrote her the day David made his proposal, the Independent reported. In that letter Hansen said David's proposal "presents a danger to our tourism industry" and sought Paige's help "in beating back Sen. David's attack."
David said the additional $2.50 fee would be competitive with other Caribbean destinations and would raise $5 million for the V.I. treasury.
Wheatley said the proposed passenger fee would be on the WICO board's agenda next month “when we meet with the cruise lines.” He declined further comment until then. In the past WICO officials have opposed increasing passenger fees.
In 1998 nearly 2 million cruise ship passengers visited the Virgin Islands, with the vast majority coming to St. Thomas.

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