Joint fight against air tax needed

Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.

Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has called on all tourism interests in the Caribbean to join in the debate regarding the reversal or adjustment being sought in the application of the controversial Air Passenger Duty (ADP) on travelers from the United Kingdom to the region.

Bartlett was at the time addressing the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) 19th General Assembly in South Korea recently.

He said the debate should continue, given the fact that the UK government was facing growing opposition even within its own parliament over plans to increase the rate of APD.

The APD was introduced by the British government in l994. Since then, there have been increases in 2009 and in 2010.

In illustrating the effect of the APD has on air travel to the Caribbean, Bartlett said: “The implementation and application of the tax has, for example, whereas in the past, it was much cheaper for a family to travel, today, it will cost a family of four traveling economy class to the Caribbean an additional US$478.”

Bartlett called for urgent action on the part of stakeholders including the UNWTO, to address pressing concerns regarding airlift facing the Caribbean countries.

He lamented that “countries in the region that depend heavily on tourism are being faced with tremendous challenges in maintaining airlift to the region as there is no airlift operation policy framework globally, therefore, there are no rules to follow.”

He said that countries in the region were being asked to accommodate airlines that operate within their own rules.

“Airlines are free to change their rules, ownership structures and business arrangements at will, irrespective of how they affect the cost of travel or the availability of connectivity to vulnerable tourism states like ours in the Caribbean and other small island destinations,” the minister said.

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