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Caribbean Intensifies Lobbying Against UK Air Tax

by Amanda Banks,, London

08 September 2010

The Caribbean is to intensify efforts to establish a 'fairer passenger tax system' in the UK during an official visit to the city of London, which will include a series of meetings between high-level officials and parliamentary bodies, the Caribbean Tourism Organization said.

Six Caribbean tourism ministers, along with the Organization’s Chief Executive are in London to discuss the Air Passenger Duty (APD) with a range of organizations, including the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), the Caribbean Council, Caribbean Diaspora representatives, the British Air Transport Association and the British Caribbean All Party Parliamentary Group.

The Organization said that the delegation will lobby “for a fairer alternative to the current APD system, which currently taxes flights from Britain to the Caribbean more heavily than travel to Hawaii, and is set to rise for the second time in a year within the next two months.”

In November 2008 APD was re-worked into a four-tier band system, categorizing destinations according to the distance between London and their national capital. From November 1, when the next tranche of tax increases are brought in, APD on flights to the Caribbean will have risen by up to 94% over two years, meaning that a four-person family traveling to the Caribbean in premium economy will pay GBP600 in APD alone.

The ministers will be lobbying for their region, officially the most tourism-dependent in the world (14.5% of the region's GDP and, for some islands, over 70%) to potentially be moved into the same band as the USA and Bermuda, or for the APD system to be replaced with a ‘fairer structure’.

Hugh Riley, Secretary General and CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, said ahead of the three day visit that: “We feel that the size of the delegation which is coming to the UK on September 6 underscores the importance that the Caribbean attaches to this issue and the seriousness of our intent to minimize the possible damage that this second set of price increases will bring about.”

He added: “The rises come at time when a second British recession is being forecast and the Caribbean governments and people feel that it is paramount that we discuss the issue with every responsible body in order to find a mutually acceptable solution as soon as possible”.

Next month the Caribbean Tourism Organisation is hosting a leadership strategy conference in Barbados where Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of British Airways, is to address the delegation about the importance of intercontinental travel and where he is expected to touch on the gravity of the APD issue and its ramifications for Caribbean tourism.

TAGS: individuals | environment | tax | business | Bahamas | Montserrat | Netherlands | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | aviation | Aruba | Belize | Cayman Islands | Grenada | Jamaica | Trinidad and Tobago | Turks and Caicos Islands | United Kingdom | Virgin Islands | environmental tax | Anguilla | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Martinique | Netherlands Antilles | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Barbados | British Virgin Islands

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