Calls to abolish air passenger duty

President and chief executive officer of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) David Scowill called on the UK government to abolish the air passenger duty (APD) as it harms the Caribbean economy and the Caribbean community living in the UK.

Scowill who was speaking at the Caribbean’s State of the Industry Conference in St. Martin said the APD distorts the tourism market and damages the economic prosperity of the Caribbean, which is the most tourism-dependent region in the world.

According to a report by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), arrivals from the UK to the Caribbean are already declining, while those from other source markets are increasing. In November 2010, it was estimated that the average decline in UK arrivals to the Caribbean would be in the region of 15 percent, once the full impact of the latest rise in APD has taken effect. During the first half of 2011, the impact was even greater at 20 percent on 2008 passenger levels.

With the adoption of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012, it is time for the UK government to recognize that APD is a tax whose time has come and gone. It must be phased out now or, at least, redesigned Scowill said.

British Airways announced recently it is set to cut the capacity flights to the Caribbean because of the United Kingdom’s sky-high APD tax.

The airline has called the government to scrap its “destructive tax juggernaut” and says the UK tourism industry suffers from the “heaviest tax burden in global aviation.”

As a result, British Airways has decide to reduce its flights to the Caribbean, and increase its service to Florida, a holiday destination that currently has a 20 percent lower tax that the Caribbean islands. BA is set to cut Caribbean’s flights owing to the UK’s extortionate APD rates.

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