APD under fire from Caribbean Tourism Organisation

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By J Miller

Scotland is not alone in its battle with the Treasury over Air Passenger Duty(APD).  The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the umbrella body for Caribbean tourism, has said that it is deeply disappointed and surprised by the UK Government’s announcement on 6 December that it will continue to discriminate against the Caribbean in relation to the banding aspect of the APD system.

By J Miller

Scotland is not alone in its battle with the Treasury over Air Passenger Duty(APD).  The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the umbrella body for Caribbean tourism, has said that it is deeply disappointed and surprised by the UK Government’s announcement on 6 December that it will continue to discriminate against the Caribbean in relation to the banding aspect of the APD system.

In a 26-page document published this week, the British government said that APD rates to Caribbean destinations will continue to be considerably higher than those to some competitor destinations.

Over a period of three years, the Caribbean and its community in the UK have consistently sought to raise the issue of APD at all levels of the British government and with the UK parliament.

St Kitts Tourism Minister Ricky Skerritt, Chairman of the CTO, said:

“Today’s announcement on the APD is a slap in the face for all Caribbean people.  It dismisses all of the research and information CTO has provided to the British Government over the past three years, and it contradicts the message sent by the UK Chancellor, George Osborne MP, in March 2011 when he cited the discrepancy between the USA and Caribbean APD rates as one of the reasons for holding a consultation on reform of UK APD.  

The Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region of the world and the British Government’s decision totally ignores the negative effect that APD is having on our economies and the Caribbean’s business partners in the UK travel industry.”

The band within which APD rates fall is determined by the distance between London and the capital of the country to which the flight is going.  This has resulted in the anomaly that a flight from London to Barbados (4,207 miles) attracts a higher rate of APD than London to Honolulu (7,241 miles) because the London – Honolulu mileage is taken to be the distance from London to Washington (3,675 miles).  Any pretence that APD is a green tax has long since been abandoned.  

This is not just a tourism issue but affects the many hundreds of thousands of people of Caribbean descent living in the UK who regularly return to the Caribbean to visit relatives.  With over 7% of London’s population of Caribbean descent they are likely to express their anger at the Chancellor’s intransigence when they go to the polls in May 2012 for the London Mayoral election.