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APD hurting region

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

APD hurting region

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BASSETERRE  – Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Richard Skerritt says Britain’s controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) has resulted in a decrease in visitor arrival from the United Kingdom to the region.
Last week, UK officials confirmed that the APD will increase by eight per cent as of April 1, despite several initiatives by regional governments to get London to reconsider the measure.
A number of leading international airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic argue that the increases would mean that a family of four flying from the UK to the Caribbean would have to pay close to £400 (US$625.08) in taxes. In 2005 such a family would have paid a total of £80 (US$125.06) in taxes.
Skerritt, who is also the Tourism Minister in the Denzil Douglas administration, said ‘the measure will affect the economy of our area.
“The APD has contributed to the decrease in British tourists visiting our country and also the members of the Caribbean community in the United Kingdom have reduced their trips to the region,” he added.
Grenada’s Tourism Minister Peter David has also described the measure as not only negative but discriminatory.
“The APD is not only negative, it is also discriminator. How can they impose the same measure for both the Caribbean and the United States,” he asked.
The World Travel &Tourism Council (WTTC) said that new research shows that removing the APD would result in an additional 91,000 British jobs being created and £4.2 billion (US$6.5 billion) added to the economy within a year.
 “Air Passenger Duty is a completely disproportionate tax on people’s holidays and is hitting business travel hard. When the economy needs help, it is economically illogical to continue with a tax that costs the country some 91,000 jobs and as much as £4.2 billion,” said WTTC president David Scowsill.
Secretary General of the Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association (CHTA), Alec Sanguinetti, said an estimated 1.3 million tourists from the United Kingdom visited the region in 2007, while in 2010, that number dropped to 1.1 million.
The APD, instituted in 1994 is a British environmental tax, aimed at offsetting aviation’s carbon footprint. In its initial stage it was set at £5 (US$7.85) per person. (CMC)