Published On: Mon, Jan 17th, 2022

MP Brison’s initiative law proposes a $30 health levy to tourists

PHILIPSBURG — Visiting tourists will be charged with a health levy of $30 every time they visit St. Maarten if an initiative law proposed by Member of Parliament Rolando Brison (UP) becomes a reality.

Brison announced his initiative in a press release last week, explaining that his National Ordinance Tourism Health Levy would add a mandatory basic accident insurance to the already existing requirement that tourists have health insurance.

The draft law leaves administering this additional insurance to Social and Health Insurances SZV. “This will allow us to withhold part of the collected levy from the debt government owes to SZV,” SZV’s manager corporate communications spokeswoman Charonne Holder stated in answer to questions from StMaartenNews.com.

Holder points out that SZV is responsible for social and health insurances on St. Maarten and that the legislation proposed by MP Brison would entitle it to provide and execute the tourism health levy.

SZV also notes that financial supervisor Cft stated in its second quarterly report of 2021 that “the government must find new creative solutions to ensure the continued existence of the SZV-funds,” Holder stated that the initiative law is “an example of these types of solutions.”

The draft law would furthermore relieve the local hospital of the burden of unpaid bills left behind by tourists, Holder stated: “Once the legislation goes into effect, SZV will be responsible for the COVID-related expenses of the hospital from our tourists.”

Brison stated in his press release that the additional insurance would not only cover COVID-related hospitalizations but also accidents. “This will give peace of mind to all travelers coming to our destination. In the event any of them were to get seriously ill, the coverage could provide them emergency travel back home.”

Brison submitted the draft law to parliament on November 9 of last year. Before parliament can debate the proposal, the Council of Advice will have to peruse it and render its advice.

While Brison’s press release does not mention the proposed fee of $30, it states that “the law will be seamless in its implementation, and is predicted to have very little negative effect on tourists now that they have had more than a year paying the fee.”

If visitor-arrivals ever reach pre Hurricane Irma and pre COVID-levels of between 1.5 and 1.7 million, the health levy could generate between $45 million and $51 million per year.