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CHTA backs APD protest

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

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The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) has come out once again in its opposition to Britain’s Air Passenger Duty (APD).
This time it has supported CARICOM chairman Dr Kenny Anthony, prime minister of St Lucia, who has written to George Osborne, Britain’ chancellor of the exchequer, about the damage done  by the APD to the entire Caribbean.
In his letter, Dr Anthony wrote, “The Caribbean understands the fiscal challenge faced by [Britain] in respect of raising revenue, but we do not believe that APD should be imposed unfairly, or at the expense of the Caribbean economy and our community in [Britain].
“Our data shows the negative effect that APD is having in this respect and how it’s hampered our ability to obtain the greatest benefit from our most valuable export industry.”  
CHTA president Richard J. Doumeng said, “The fact that the prime minister, who is also the chairman of the Caribbean Community, has written to [Britain’s] government on this issue demonstrates the seriousness with which the Caribbean region takes this issue and the severe impact that the duty is having on the Caribbean.
“CHTA passed a resolution in January 2012 calling on Caribbean governments to engage with [Britain’s] treasury on this issue and we are delighted that this is now happening. We stand ready to provide support to Caribbean governments as they seek to have the Caribbean’s concerns addressed.”
CHTA’s board of directors’ resolution further called on the governments of the Caribbean “to make clear that [Britain’s] APD banding structure contravenes the spirit of the EU CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement, to which [Britain] as an EU member is a signatory”.
It additionally called on governments to review alternative options to address the issue, including “the bringing of a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) based on the discriminatory nature of the APD banding system against the Caribbean . . . ”.
According to reports by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the British visitor market to the Caribbean in 2007 was at 1 373 600 and in 2010 had declined to 1 103 400, a decrease of 270 200 visitors representing a major economic loss. (MM)