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Stabroek News

Caribbean governments urged to ease airline taxation
published: Friday | February 22, 2008

Janet Silvera, Senior Tourism Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

International Air Transport Association's (IATA) Cyriel Kronen-burg wants Caribbean governments to eliminate surcharges, implement independent economic regulations and adopt a regional approach to the aviation industry.

The aviation expert, who was speaking at the first Tourism Outlook Seminar at the Hilton Kingston hotel, New Kingston, on Wednesday, said the airline industry was a key economic contributor, but Caribbean governments were prescribing taxes on airlines operating in the region.

Cruise lines, on the other hand, he said, paid little or no taxation at all.

This is the second call that the IATA executive has made in a month regarding measures that must be taken to make the Caribbean competitive in the aggressive marketplace.

Noting that air transport was critical to the Caribbean and Latin America, he implored the authorities not to burden airlines flying into the region with an overdose of taxation.

The US$450 billion industry, which supports a US$2.9 trillion economic activity, is responsible for providing 570,000 direct jobs and contributes over US$20 billion to the region's GDP, yet remains an industry in crisis since 2001, said Kronenburg.

"The Caribbean is often too expensive, compared to new markets, and has an added problem of not treating all visitors to its shores equally. The average airline passenger pays US$30 versus the cruise ship passenger tax of US$1," he said.

The IATA executive blamed a number of other factors, including lack of intra-Caribbean harmonisa-tion and cooperation; high dependency on airline revenue as the barriers preventing potential aviation and financial growth in the region.

Coupled with that, the region competes increasingly with other regions.

The Caribbean currently competes with China, India, Central America, Brazil, the Middle East and Africa for a piece of the aviation pie.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com

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