Faced with a storm of protest from Bahamas-bound boaters, the Bahamian government has eased the cruising permit fee increases it imposed last summer [“Fee Hikes,” Channel 9, October 2003]. The rates that took effect July 1, 2003, will stay the same-$150 for boats up to 35 feet and $300 for vessels larger than 35 feet-but the government will allow boaters to enter Bahamian waters a second time within 90 days without paying again.
In a news release issued in December, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism said it had “given due consideration to the concerns of the boating community” in relaxing the fees, but added that the change is temporary while officials study a possible “annual fee structure.” The government said it will “continue the dialogue with both the domestic and international boating community to determine how such a policy can best be implemented.”
The new fees tripled the cruising costs for larger boats and increased the costs for smaller boats by half. At the time, the Bahamian government said the increases were necessary because of higher costs for port security, anti-poaching and environmental measures. When BoatU.S. president Jim Ellis returned from a Bahamas cruise last summer, he launched an e-mail campaign to get the government to reconsider. Now, the organization continues urging members to send e-mails to Keith Gomez, boating and fishing specialist with the Bahamas Tourism Centre, firstname.lastname@example.org or John Rolle, the Bahamian Comptroller of Customs, at email@example.com.