The Virgin Islands, despite its incredible beauty, is in some serious financial trouble.
Persistent budget holes as a result of borrowing and deficit spending have landed the territorial government with a whopping $2 billion bond debt. Therefore, leaders are plumbing desperate depths to plug those budget holes.
One of these bright ideas is not exactly going down well.
This idea is to charge those holidaying in the Virgin Islands $25US a day for using timeshare. It’s calling the tax the “Environmental and Infrastructure Impact Fee” but it doesn’t actually have anything to do with either the shoddy infrastructure nor the troubled natural environment of the islands. Instead, the tax goes straight into the government’s general fund.
“Timeshare tourists have the same impact as any other tourist to the U.S. Virgin Islands, and therefore it is discriminatory to single out timeshare owners for this impact fee,”
said Robert Clements, the vice president of regulatory affairs for the American Resort Development Association-Resort Owners’ Coalition.
Quite right, too!
The American Resort Development Association-Resort Owners’ Coalition is launching legal action in federal court, a lawsuit which it filed in May 2017.
For a week’s stay on the island, timeshare holders will have to fork out an extra $175 just for being there. This means less money for the holidaymakers to spend in restaurants and on other leisure activities on their trip.
What effect will this have on the local economy? Not a good one. Clearly, the government are so desperate that they haven’t thought through what the impact will be on local businesses, and thus the people that own and operate them. Nonetheless, the government is pressing ahead, having already begun charging the fees, from which it expects to net an extra $19 million a year.
How will this lawsuit play out? Time will tell – and we’ll keep you informed of the latest developments as they come!