THE UPCOMING winter tourism season could be negatively impacted by any increase in the British air passenger duty (APD).
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy said yesterdaythe proposed increases come at a time when Barbados had recorded increases in July and August arrivals from Britain.
“We’ve been very aggressive in this market because of how important it is to us. To tell the truth, if those increases go ahead in November it certainly will have an impact on our winter season . . . . It therefore tells me we need to work hard,” he said.
“It is going to be very challenging and the APD increases would definitely have an impact . . . that is my judgement of the situation . . . but I’m not at all folding my arms and that is why I’m up here,” the minister said during an interview from Britain.
Sealy spoke of getting partners on board with the efforts to host special events to attract more British visitors here.
He highlighted events such as the CLOBI Cup, Food And Wine And Rum Festival, weddings and more diaspora travel, as the local tourism planners use every possible avenue to attract more business.
The APD, which is set to go up from November 1, will move from £50 (BDS$154) to £75 per person ($230) for economy class seats and from £75 (BDS$230) to £150 (BDS $464) in premium, business and first class.
This duty, which places countries in bands based on the distance of their capital cities from London, means that a destination such as Hawaii, which is twice as far from London as Bridgetown, will benefit from a lower rate because the United States’ capital is Washington.
Sealy was part of a regional delegation which put its case for a reprieve of the APD during meetings with a number of influential British government officials, but there was no commitment.
He said Britain was dealing with major economic challenges at this time, including cutbacks on public expenditure and ways to raise revenues.
The diaspora community, he said, has been playing its part.
“We have huge communities up here that are affected by the APD and they have been hard at work trying to put forward how it affects them, and we are speaking not only of tourism issues.
They are British citizens who are seriously affected by this; people looking to go home not only for vacations, but for funerals, weddings and the whole nine yards, doing business and so,” he added.
As part of its lobbying effort, Sealy and his Caribbean counterparts have met with and will be working with the high commissioners from India, new Zealand and Africa, to pressure the British government.