Air Passenger Duty victory for Caribbean countries
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Four years after the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO)-led lobby against the 'unfair' Air Passenger Duty (APD), the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne has yielded.
Osborne announced earlier today that the duty will be reformed come next year.
As of April 2015, the APD will be simplified into a two-band system: Band A for short-haul flights of less than 2,000 miles from London and Band B for all long-haul flights more than 2,000 miles from London.
The new Band B will be charged at the planned rate in 2015-16 (£71 for reduced-rate passengers and £142 for standard-rate passengers).
The news has been welcomed by CTO Chairman Beverly Nicholson-Doty, who said in a media release this afternoon: "This is a complete victory for the Caribbean which, led by the CTO, has been lobbying against the unfair system which charged a higher rate of APD on flights to Barbados than Hawaii and placed the United States at a competitive advantage.
"We are delighted that the chancellor has finally accepted the Caribbean's proposal made in November 2010 to return to the simpler and fairer two-band system.
"We want to thank everyone who has supported our lobby, including Caribbean Governments, our partners, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, British MPs and peers, the Caribbean high commissioners in London, Caribbean ambassadors in Brussels, the Diaspora and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the World Travel and Tourism Council and the airlines and travel companies.
"Rest assured that the CTO, with support of our partners, will continue to advocate on behalf of the Caribbean tourism sector. We will now proceed to examine all the implications of this very positive development and advise our members accordingly," said Nicholson-Doty.
Research has shown marked reduction in arrivals from the UK to the region.
This is reflected considerably in the Eastern Caribbean, which has suffered badly as a result of the APD.
In some Caribbean countries the CTO reports that up to 40 per cent of total arrivals by air, come from the UK, making any reduction in visitors economically challenging.
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