Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says that although the increase in Britain’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) is still having a negative impact on travel to the Caribbean, Jamaica has managed to “turn the corner.”
Noting that it is “early days yet,” Dr. McNeill explained that a number of activities have boosted Jamaica’s profile in the United Kingdom (UK) market, such as the London Olympics in 2012, which is benefiting the country.
The Minister was speaking at a post-Sectoral Debate press briefing, hosted at Jamaica House, on Wednesday, July 3, by Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer.
Dr. McNeill said that Jamaica has also developed a close relationship with the largest tour operators in the world, TUI Travel, which has added extra flights. Virgin has also added extra flights which has benefitted Jamaica.
“Where others have been experiencing a bit of attrition, we have turned the corner a bit…so we are very encouraged by this…however, the APD is still a serious problem,” the Minister said.
He explained that the two main issues with the APD is the amount of tax being applied, and the competitive disadvantage to the Caribbean region.
“That’s why the Caribbean has come together and has been lobbying so hard, because it is having an absolute and relative effect,” he said.
The APD was increased in 2010 from £50 to £75 per person for economy class seats and from £100 to £150 for premium economy, business and first class tickets.
The airport departure tax is an environmental levy first instituted by the British Government in 1984. It places countries in charging bands, based on the distance of their capital cities from London.
Therefore, flying from London to Los Angeles or Hawaii in the United States (US) is calculated as being the same as to Washington D.C. (band B), while destinations in the Caribbean, which are in band C, are charged at a higher rate of tax.
Jamaica and other Caribbean territories have said that this is an unfair tax, which puts the region at an economic disadvantage, and are lobbying for the region to be placed in the same band as the US.
Contact: Alphea Saunders