The British Government has not cancelled the Air Passenger Duty (APD) but rather delayed an increase in the tax which was scheduled to begin from this year, asserted THA Chief Secretary Orville London as he sought to “correct some misconception” at last Wednesday’s post Executive Council media briefing.
He stressed that the APD remained and so too does the challenges it posed to Caribbean destinations, like Tobago.
However, citing British Chancellor George Osborne’s March 23 Budget presentation, London said he was heartened that Chancellor Osborne promised to look into the arbitrary branding of countries. The Chancellor said the arbitrary branding of world Capitals meant that people flying from the UK to California, USA would pay less money than those flying to the Caribbean, according London.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said on her return from a one-week visit to London last week Monday that she had good news for the tourism industry since the British Government had said it would remove the APD.
THA Tourism and Transportation Secretary Oswald Williams on a previous occasion noted that at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Conference in Belgium in February, Caribbean representatives had spoken out about the negative impact the tax would have on the Caribbean tourism industry to European parliamentarians who were also in attendance. Williams said foremost in the discussions was “the whole issue of taxation on travel and the impact it is likely to have first of all on the travel industry and obviously the impact it is likely to have on the Caribbean and its tourism development”.
He added: “It is not only the APD, it is of course also about the whole issue of other taxation that is raising its head, taxes on the travel industry.”
Even if the APD stays frozen at the current level for a year, British airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic which services Tobago, have warned of potentially devastating effects for communities that rely on British tourists.
Last year, British Airways said there had been a 12 per cent drop in arrivals to the Caribbean from Britain after APD on those routes had nearly doubled since 2009. Osborne in his Budget presentation also said he would review the structure of APD and look at how to “improve the existing and rather arbitrary bands that appear to believe the Caribbean is further away than California”.