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Caribbean Urged To Lobby Harder Against APD

by Amanda Banks,, London

22 June 2012

Trinidad and Tobago's Minister for Tourism Dr Rupert Griffith has suggested that more resources should be used to persuade the UK government to reduce the impact of the controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) on Caribbean tourism, and called for the region to agree on a more ambitious and better coordinated approach to these lobbying efforts.

His announcement comes in support of the message heard at the Caribbean Tourism Summit, held in mid-June in Jamaica, where David Scowswill, the President of the World Travel and Tourism Council, called for a concerted effort to convince the UK to discontinue the APD on travellers to the Caribbean.

Reflecting on previously unsuccessful efforts, Scowswill told attendees: “We will now have to go to war. We have to find a different way to persuade the UK government on its view on the APD and this is going to require money, funds for the lobbying organizations and one voice rather than independent voices that are shouting about the issue around the world.”

“There has been much discussion around the UK’s APD, which was increased again in April this year. Arguments and pleas by the industry have continued to fall on deaf ears,” Scowsill added. “The Caribbean industry has been at the forefront of the argument that the structure of APD leaves the region at a considerable competitive disadvantage compared to other destinations.”

APD was first introduced in the UK in 1994 but it was subject to punitive revisions within the government’s November 2008 pre-Budget report. The new APD system comprises four bands depending on the distance traveled, and has been criticized for being unjust, in particular by imposing higher rates on Caribbean flights compared with those to America and other equidistant destinations.

For his part, Griffith recalled that the Caribbean had, through the Caribbean Tourism Organization, previously made two approaches as a co-ordinated group in the United Kingdom, receiving support from backbenchers from the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The British Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer however have refused to budge on the matter.

Griffith expects that by the time the CTO’s annual meeting comes around in September, a position paper will be ready, which will determine the best way forward for the region.

“We are very concerned about the effect of the APD on tourism in the region and in Tobago, which relies so heavily on European tourist arrivals," Griffith said. "We have lobbied in conjunction with the CTO, and if it means that we have to find funding to lobby harder, then I will go back to Cabinet for that funding because as it stands now, we give a tax incentive to passengers by paying GBP100 (USD156.1) out of the GBP120 that the UK government charges on a ticket,” he concluded.

TAGS: tax | aviation | Trinidad and Tobago | United Kingdom

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