Tax likely to stay
IT IS UNLIKELY that the United Kingdom will repeal the Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax but regional tourism officials will still voice their concerns.
This is according to Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy who will be part of a high-level delegation from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) travelling to London next week.
Speaking yeterday after a tour of the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, Holetown, St James, Sealy said the CTO wanted to have the air passenger duty readjusted in the first instance and ultimately repealed.
“It is true that obviously the United Kingdom has its challenges and they need revenue and it is unlikely they will repeal the APD but we still have to put our bid. If we say nothing then we run the risk of allowing others to do similar things,” Sealy said.
He noted that Germany has recently put a 45 euro charge on long-haul flights and other members of the European Union may look to do likewise.
“Barbados has more at stake than anyone because we get more British visitors than any other Caribbean destination,” Sealy noted.
He said the local delegation also intends to meet with CEOs from Virgin Atlantic and BMI “to deal with the airlift situation as well some high-level persons from British Airways.”
“We want to make sure we can have seats coming into the winter season and beyond coming out of what is our most important market.”
Sealy said Barbados would also be rolling out a programme “that will in essence hope to give a boost to getting the United Kingdom back on track.”
He noted that although 2009 was a year of significant decline in that market and figures were down for the year to date, there had been some bright spots such as arrivals for the Twenty20 World Cup.
He said the market would improve with “some effort, greater public-private collaboration, staying close to operators”, and niche areas like romance and sports tourism.
Sealy expressed satisfaction with the summer season but said there were still some challenges with intra-regional travel. (NB)