Tourism Development Incentives

The Tourism Development Act, Chapter 87:22 (TDA) was introduced to support the development of tourism in Trinidad and Tobago. The Act provides for benefits to be granted to the owners/operators of various types of tourism projects, once these projects have the potential to contribute substantially to the development, growth and expansion of the industry.

To access the tourism development incentives under the TDA owners/operators are required to obtain approval for their proposed tourism projects from the Ministry of Tourism. The Act provides for these incentives to be targeted to specific tourism activities with the aim of stimulating investment and building a sustainable tourism sector. The categories of projects targeted by these incentives are as follows:

  • Tourism Accommodation Projects
    Tourism Accommodation Facilities under the TDA includes:  

- Hotels  ( business, conference and leisure)
- Campsites, dive and eco-Iodges (for the development of eco-tourism)
- Guest houses
- Integrated resort development (at least 200 rooms minimum)
- Resort 

  • Tourism Ancillary Projects
    Tourism Ancillary Facilities and Services will include projects that provide support for, and exist for, the sole purpose of providing entertainment and attractions for use by tourists.  They includes: 

- Marinas & boatyards, Water sports, Charter boats, Dive operations, Recreational Space & Theme Parks
- Tour operations - land, sea and air
- Cultural centers, film making & special events
- Golf courses that are open for public use
- Transportation services

  • Tourism Infrastructure 
    This includes the followings activities and projects:

- Heliports
- Seaports and Airports
- Roads
- Irrigation
- Land Clearing and Cleaning
- Communications
-Dive Recompression/ Hyperbaric Chamber
- Public Utilities – Water, Electricity and Sewage Treatment Plants
- Ecological and environmental Maintenance

  • Other Tourism Project
    Owing to the dynamic nature of the tourism industry, it is not possible to complete a comprehensive list of “tourism projects”. Other tourism projects include: 

- Convention Centres
- Historical Landmarks
- Shopping Facilities
- Heritage Sites

Tax benefits available for investment for Tourism Accommodation and Ancillary Projects:

  1. Tax exemption for up to seven (7) years in respect of gains or profits from approved tourism projects

  2. Accelerated depreciation on depreciable equipment (granted after the tax holidays which does not exceed 7 years)

  3. Capital allowance on approved capital expenditure equipment (granted after the tax holidays which does not exceed 7 years)

  4. Tax exemption in respect of gains or profits from the initial sale of a villa or condominium that forms part of an integrated resort development

  5. Carry forward from a tax exemption period of any loss arising from the operation or renting of an approved tourism project

  6. Duty free importation of building materials and tourism equipment to be used exclusively in connection with the tourism project (restricted to items not manufactured in Trinidad and Tobago.)

  7. 100% Income Tax deduction on approved capital expenditure incurred in conversion of a house into an approved guest house;

  8. Tax exemption in respect of any dividend paid to a non-resident shareholder if the recipient is not liable to tax in respect of that dividend in the country in which he is resident.

  • Tax benefits available for investment for Tourism Transport Projects: 
    - Importation of a vehicle for use in the transportation of guests/visitors at a reduced rate of custom duty (10%)
    - Full exemption from Motor Vehicle Tax (MVT).  

Steps in accessing tourism development incentives:

  1. Applicants must complete an Application Form for Approval of a Tourism Project (Form A). This form can be obtained from the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) or the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). 

  2. Applications are evaluated by MOT/THA and recommendations are made to the Minister of Tourism. If the Minister of Tourism is satisfied that the tourism project would assist the tourism industry and is in the public interest, an Interim Approval or Approval of a Tourism Project (Form B) is granted to the owner/operator of the project. 

  3. If the owner/operator needs to import items for the tourism project he/she must complete an Application Form for a Permit (Form C) to import items free of customs duty.  

  4. The list of items for duty free importation is evaluated by MOT/THA and submitted to the Ministry of Tourism for further evaluation and approval. The Minister of Tourism then grants the Permit (Form D) to the owner/operator of the tourism project. 

  5. On completion of the tourism project, the owner/operator must submit full details of the Actual Capital Expenditure on Form E to the Ministry of Tourism. The expenditure must be certified by an accredited Valuator, Accountant, Engineer or Quantity Surveyor. A Completion Certificate from the relevant Local Health Department and Regional Municipal Authority must also be submitted.  

  6. On completion, the project is examined by the MOT to ensure that it is completed in accordance with the conditions in the Interim Approval or Approval of a Tourism Project (Form B). If the project is substantially completed, an Order is issued by the Minister of Tourism declaring the project an "Approved Tourism Project". The Order will specify the tax benefits granted to the owner/operator of the project.

  7. After the project is declared a bona fide Tourism Project, the lending agency involved must apply to the Minister of Finance for exemption from tax on interest received on an approved loan used in financing the project.  

  8. The Minister of Finance conveys approval for the tax exemption by a Tourism Development (Exemption from Tax) Order.  

  • Steps in accessing incentive for Tourism Transport Vehicles:
  1. An “Application Form for Approval of a Tourism project” Form A, which can be collected from the Ministry of Tourism (MOT), or the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), must be completed by all applicants. 

  2. For Road Vehicle (with eight (8) passengers or less) 

Note: The Form A must be submitted to MOT, Trinidad if the project is located in Trinidad, and THA if the project is in Tobago, along with following: 

  • The applicant’s valid taxi driver’s badge, drivers permit and identification card.
  • A quotation identifying details of the vehicle to be imported which should include cost        ( cost, insurance and freight) name of supplier, name of applicant, type of vehicle, chassis no, size of engine, seating capacity.
  • A letter from the registered taxi association certifying that applicant is a member.
  • A copy of the signed Ministry of Trade and Industry’s application form “Application for Licence to Import Goods into Trinidad and Tobago”.
  • A letter from Licensing Department (for special vehicles such as left hand drive).
  • A letter from the THA recommending the project, for applicants located in Tobago.
  • Approval must be obtained from the Public Service Transport Corporation (PTSC) for vehicles which accommodate more than eight (8) passengers. 

Click here to download Form A - Application to access TDA Incentives
Click here for Form C - Application for a Tourism Permit

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