As soon as the new island ordinance for the tourist tax comes into effect, the current tax system of room tax and car rental tax will expire. Currently, the rate of car rental tax is $4 per rental car per day. This will most probably expire on 1 July.
Luite Berkenbosch, General Manager of AB Car Rental explains: “We will stop collecting and start remitting this tax as soon as the new island ordinance will be in place. For all bookings with an effective date after July 1st, 2022, the current car rental tax will expire. This gives our guests a price advantage of 4 dollars per day. All guests who have already paid for their reservation for the period after the effective date of the new tourist tax will receive a refund from us. Reimbursing the car rental tax already paid for the period after July 1st creates a lot of administrative work for us, but at AB Car Rental we believe that all good things come to those who make them happen.”
The introduction of the new tourist tax has been a process that has been discussed by the government for years. The current system of room tax and car rental tax is an unfair system that is also poorly enforced. “Unlike some other companies, we at AB Car Rental have always collected the car rental tax and paid it in full”, says Luite, “We have checked the annual financials of the Public Entity Bonaire over the past years and we noticed that AB Car Rental has paid an average of 30% of the total annual contribution to car rental tax, while our market share is considerably lower. This indicates that the current system does not work and that there is unfair competition because some car rental companies apparently do not collect the tax or don't pay it completely or refuse to pay it at all”.
Frankly, we would have preferred the new tourist tax amount to be set at $50 per year, which proposal was on the table first. But unfortunately the Island Council has adopted a last minute amendment in which the new tourist tax rate will amount to 75 dollars per person per visit to Bonaire, with lower rates for children under 13 or residents of the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles. On the other hand, the new system is at least fair because everyone entering Bonaire contributes and it ensures higher tax revenues for the local government. We hope that this money will be well spent on things like strengthening the tourism sector, improving infrastructure and increasing prosperity for our residents.