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TOURISM MATTERS: Clearing the air on passenger duty


TOURISM MATTERS: Clearing the air on passenger duty

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It seems almost inconceivable to accept that the dreaded air passenger duty (APD) was implemented in the United Kingdom or, others would say, thrust upon the industry some 20 years ago.

There has been a lot of recent misinformation spread in the media, so I think it is time to clarify just exactly what is happening.

From April 1, the two higher mileage bands, C and D, will be abolished and flights from the UK will then be included in band B at an APD rate of £71 (BDS$225) per passenger for economy and  £142 (BDS$450) for higher classes of travel.

Many are watching to see if the reduced aviation fuel costs with the continuing plummeting fall in oil prices, together with a slightly lower APD rate will be reflected in the cost of airfares from next April.

There are other glimmers of hope on the horizon, including a strong lobby to have APD removed, or at least lowered on airline tickets for children. I believe it would make a massive difference for families contemplating holidays in the Caribbean, especially during the softer summer months.

Following the Scottish referendum, despite not gaining sufficient support for independence, the country has been promised increased autonomy and greater self-governance.

This could result in the reduction in the rate of APD for flights departing Scotland to give their airports a competitive advantage.

Thomas Cook and Thomson have clearly demonstrated there is a vibrant market for non-legacy airlines operating to the Caribbean and if Virgin or British Airways cannot be enticed, then they appear to be the logical alternatives.

It seems inconceivable that we could not fill at least one flight a week from Glasgow or Prestwick. 

Northern Ireland successfully applied and negotiated a zero rate of APD for long-haul transatlantic flights out of Belfast.

Now that low-cost carrier Norwegian Air International is legally domiciled in neighbouring Eire, perhaps it could be persuaded to start Caribbean services, even if initially that would be in tandem with another island, like St Lucia.

Will the new more commercially motivated Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., drive and direct these and other initiatives in concert with accommodation groupings like the Intimate Hotels of Barbados and our growing villa sector.

As a destination, I think we have to get more involved in making it easier and more affordable for our visitors to get to airports servicing Barbados, through smart partnerships with train operators, car parking and overnight hotels.

Almost always these are critical financial factors in the selection of a holiday, especially when a family is involved.

Sufficient restaurants have agreed to continue the re-DISCOVER dine-around promotion throughout the winter.

Of course, with the requirement of having to book, they can individually revenue control numbers. From all indications roughly half of the re-DISCOVER menu take-up until now has been by local or long term visitors.

I commend those establishments who have concluded that this is the best way of maintaining loyalty with the hundreds of residents who have taken advantage of the offer over the traditionally quieter months.

With the invaluable help of our incredible webmaster we shall post a new listing on December 16, highlighting all the new or continuing existing partners.

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