Tourist Office: the tourist tax is an issue according to the Territorial audit chamber

Following the motion by the Saint-Martin prefect, the Territorial audit chamber (CTC) examined the Saint-Martin tourist office’s last budget.

Is the last budget presented and voted by the tourist office at 3,092,415 € honest? That is the question that the Territorial audit chamber of Saint-Martin (housed by the regional audit chamber of Guadeloupe) must answer.

One must bear in mind that the tourist office’s budget comes from subsidies, special subscriptions, gifts and bequests as well as the tourist tax. However, the latter’s revenue is an issue.

The 4% tourist tax is paid by tourists staying on the French side of the island, accommodation owners or operators (hotels, gites, rentals, etc.), who must declare them to the services of the Collectivité. Then, the Collectivité must remit the revenue of this tax to the tourist office.

However, this year, the CTC noticed that the amount received by the Collectivité did not match what the tourist office received. "The Collectivité included an estimated tax revenue of 2.4 million euros in its 2016 original budget," remarked the CTC, but in expenditure, it recorded its repayment at only “2 million euros". As a result, 400,000 euros is missing from the tourist tax for the tourist office.

Furthermore, the 2 million euros were not assigned to the right chapter by the tourist office. Indeed, it should have been included in the "Other operating revenues" chapter, precisely in the item "Tourist tax repayment", and not in the "operating subsidies" chapter. The mistake comes from the fact that the Collectivité included the 2 million euros in the global subsidy that it is accustomed to paying to the tourist office every year for its operations; this subsidy came to 3 million euros for the year 2016. The "operating subsidies" chapter is therefore reduced by as much, which represents a significant budgetary imbalance.

After having found another mistake with the depreciation expense, the territorial audit chamber concluded that "the tourist office’s 2016 original budget is actually imbalanced by 535,000 € " which will therefore have to be redressed.


In its opinion, the CTC therefore suggests corrective budgetary measures in order to achieve most importantly a better management of costs. "The operating imbalance is due to the tourist office’s excessive level of management costs in relation to its revenues, especially its staff costs which represent 41.5 % of the amount of the tourist tax", said the audit chamber which considers that "the staff of sixteen people is very high in relation to the office’s activity and results". And pointed out that the revenue from the tourist tax must not be used to "hand out high wages to agents" but rather "help increase the number of tourists in the territory".

The CTC recommends that the office "direct its spending toward revenue-yielding actions" and be able to assess the impact of the ones that it has implemented "To this day, it still does not measure the effects of the promotional actions that it organizes and which cost it nearly a million euros every year," said the CTC.

The tourist office management committee has one month to rectify its 2016 original budget.




Estelle Gasnet