21 Jan 2012

Depature tax rise takes travel agent by surprise

3:20 pm on 21 January 2012

Fiji's interim government has increased airport departure tax by a third.

The rise of $FJ50 brings the total departure tax to $FJ150 ($NZ105).

The executive general manager of Flight Centre in New Zealand, Mike Friend, said the increase came into effect on Friday without any notice to travel agents.

He said his agency is giving customers who no longer want to go to Fiji an alternative.

"We're offering anyone that's paid a deposit to go to Fiji, if they want to look at another destination, we'll move that deposit over, and in effect start the booking again for them."

However, Fiji's Tourism Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the increase was announced in November by the Finance Minister and he cannot understand why people are up in arms about it.

Mr Friend said that when countries such as Australia and Britain increased their departure tax, a period of 12 months notice was given.