Recovering 250 cruise vessel calls a year, --as in 2006 and 2008--, is the Chilean government target with the bill it has sent to Congress which would authorize Chilean and foreign flagged vessels to operate their on board casinos while sailing in territorial waters, currently specifically banned.
Juan Andres Fontaina Economy, Promotion and Tourism next to Deputy minister Jacqueline Plass made the official announcement of the presentation of the bill adding that the initiative is part of the package of measures to promote cruise tourism including considerable reductions for harbour, towing, pilot and lighthouse services which range from 40% to 80%.
Another initiative under consideration is the elimination of VAT on services rendered by the cruise companies to foreign visitors who are non resident in Chile, following on a similar policy for hotel companies. This would apply to foreigners staying overnight in cruise vessels, Chilean or foreign flagged, while in Chilean territory.
Chilean authorities also have in mind reimbursing tourism vessels VAT on supplies purchases such as fuel and lubricants in the extreme regions of the country: I, XI, XII and XV.
Minister Fontaine said these initiatives would cost the Treasury an estimated 300 million US dollars annually but they believe the return in economic and services’ activities for the remote regions of Chile “would be far superior”.
Chilean tourism operators have been complaining for several years that port costs in neighbouring Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego had drained many calls from Punta Arenas, and in fact making the Argentine port the main departing point for Antarctica cruises.
Furthermore cruise companies had anticipated that with no casinos operating while cruising Chilean waters, their cost equations had turned non profitable and therefore drastically cut the number of vessels calling in Chile.