JIS News

Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, took the issue of the planned increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD) to British Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the House of Lords in London this week.
Mr. Bartlett, who was guest speaker at the Caribbean Council’s annual Parliamentary reception held at the House of Lords at Westminster, charged that the increase in APD, as proposed by the British Government, is unfair and will undermine Jamaican and Caribbean tourism.
He argued that the proposed new structure of the APD, in which countries are placed in charging bands determined by the distance of their capital city from London, was discriminatory, in that it favoured large developed countries over smaller ones, which operate in the same highly competitive environment.
“This change makes APD an inherently unfair tax and not the least bit ‘green’, the Minister stated. “The structure of APD as an environmental tax, suggests that the impact of a flight to Jamaica or Barbados is greater than one to Miami, Los Angeles or Maui. Why should Caribbean countries with relatively low emissions suffer the effects of an environmental tax, in favour of the world’s biggest polluter?” he questioned.
According to the Tourism Minister, the changes, which are scheduled to take effect in November, will have a major effect on tourism to the Caribbean, thereby impacting the economies of the region and travel by members of the United Kingdom Caribbean Diaspora.
“By placing the Caribbean in B and C, but the whole of the United States in band B, we are immediately at a significant price disadvantage. An unfortunate consequence of the geographical banding by capital is that the major developed countries in the region, the United States and Canada, are benefitting at the expense of less developed nations. The region is heavily dependent on tourism and many of the economies are still coming to grips with the loss of the banana trade. In countries like Jamaica, suffering from declining revenues from agriculture and mining, tourism has become the leading source of foreign exchange earning,” Mr. Bartlett pointed out.
“This will occur at a time when the impact of the global economic downturn is already being felt and the projections of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation suggest a sharp fall in visitor arrivals in 2009 and 2010,” he noted further.
He informed the British MPs and Lords, that the Jamaica Tourist Board and neighbouring Caribbean tourist boards have been behind a lobby against the change to the APD, organised by the UK industry publication, Travel Trade Gazette.
The campaign, theme: ‘Fair Fares to Reform APD’ has circulated a petition to industry leaders, the travel industry and the Diaspora organisations and has secured more than 6,000 signatures, which will be submitted to the British Prime Minister.
Minister Bartlett, who was sharing the stage with the British Minister responsible for the Caribbean, Gillian Merron, asked why the UK Government, which has actively encouraged the Caribbean to develop tourism, sometimes providing financial aid and other assistance, would “use the APD to restrict our ability to compete with larger, richer neighbours and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of British air passengers, who may prefer a Caribbean holiday to visiting Florida?”
As part of efforts to reduce emissions from aviation, the British Government is proposing a reform to the APD, based on the distance travelled by passengers to and from UK airports. The aim is to ensure that those who travel the farthest meet the cost of the environmental impact.
The revised regime, as proposed, will place long haul destinations like Jamaica in one of the highest bands, with economy class passengers facing a tax of

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