Air tax decision by March 23
BARBADOS and the rest of the Caribbean may know the outcome of the region’s protest against the controversial British air passenger duty (APD) when the British budget is presented on March 23.
On a recent visit to Barbados, Britain’s Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jeremy Browne said the matter had been raised with the British government on many occasions, including by the Caribbean High Commissioners in London, who had met with the Treasury ministers “and the system is being reviewed”.
Pointing out it was the Treasury Department’s responsibility to address the matter, Browne said: “I have discussed it with them myself. I have made representations to our Treasury and I have explained that there is a particular unhappiness about the Caribbean being in a separate band from the United States.”
Browne told the Daily Nation: “I am not in a position to give a definite answer on the outcome. I hope that we will know what the future holds when our budget is announced on March 23.”
But he maintained: “We don’t want to damage the relationship between Britain and the Caribbean. We don’t want to damage the tourism industry, so we will try and get the right solution.”
The MP gave reassurance of a “positive future outlook” for British tourism to the Caribbean.
“There is a big upward trend in the numbers of British people coming to the Caribbean and particularly to Barbados,” Browne said, basing his statement on discussions held with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, major airlines servicing the region.
However, he warned violent crime in the region could be a major negative deterrent for British visitors.
“I think crime is an issue in parts of the Caribbean, particularly drug-related crime, violent crime, gang-related crime”, he said.
Pointing out it was “less of a problem in Barbados than it is in other parts of the Caribbean”, Browne cautioned “if there is one single thing that I think can be most damaging to tourism in the Caribbean it is the fear of violent crime, so we need to work together to try and do everything to reduce crime.
“The wider economy and particularly the tourist aspects of the economy here in the Caribbean are heavily reliant on people feeling safe.”