KINGSTON, Jamaica – Tourism Minister, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett has charged all tourism interests in the Caribbean to join in the debate regarding the reversal or adjustment being sought in the application of the controversial Air Passenger Duty, APD, on travellers from the United Kingdom to the region.
Minister Bartlett, while addressing the United Nations World Tourism Organization, UNWTO 19th General Assembly now underway in Gyeongju, South Korea yesterday, said “the debate should continue in light of the fact that the UK Government is facing growing opposition in Parliament over plans to increase the rate of APD.”
The Minister expressed that “it is critical for tourism interests in the Caribbean to remain involved in this debate. It is important for us to speak with one voice on this urgent matter and to collaborate with our colleagues so as to resolve this dilemma. It is also necessary for us to collaborate with our colleagues in the private sector and the Diaspora in the UK to try and eliminate this predicament.”
Minister Bartlett added that “it is also very important that the Caribbean retains the continued support of the UNWTO in resolving this urgent issue in a fair and impartial manner.”
Minister Bartlett in giving a breakdown of the effect the ADP has on air travel to the Caribbean said “the implementation and application of the tax has grave implications for our industry. For example whereas in the past it was much cheaper for a family to travel, today it will cost a family of four travelling economy class to the Caribbean an additional US$478. Even more disheartening is the fact that the mileage bands also create unfair anomalies.”
The Air Passenger Duty was introduced by the British Government in 1994. Since then there have been increases in 2009 and in 2010. Minister Bartlett has been very vocal in the ongoing debate and consultations between the UK Government and stakeholders. He maintains that “we in the Caribbean should support the proposal suggested by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) for a less discriminatory approach to the computation of the tax that is imposed. We have recommended that the band arrangement be adjusted to establish only two bands for long and short haul respectively in addition to a rate adjustment. This we believe would provide an alternative revenue neutral solution which is more closely aligned to actual carbon emissions as opposed to the arbitrary classifications based on bands which now exist.”