Travel and Tourism interests in the Caribbean and the United Kingdom (UK) will be closely monitoring what is said about the Airline Passenger Duty (APD) in the emergency Budget, that is to be tabled by the British Government next week.
Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett told JIS News that the issue of the APD and the proposed new Per Plane Duty (PPD) were discussed during his meetings with the British Caribbean All Parliamentary Group, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and the British Air Transport Association, this week.
“We restated the Caribbean’s position on the APD and we think that the position taken by the new Coalition Government is still not clear at this time. It is not clear whether they are going to abolish it (APD) completely, in favour of the new single tax (PPD) on the airline,” Mr. Bartlett said.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (right), having a light exchange with Senator Allen Chastanet (left), St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, following a meeting with the British Caribbean All Party Parliamentary Group, on June 17. At centre is Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.
The Minister said the stakeholders would be watching closely the British Government’s emergency budget in relation to the APD, and that there will be follow-up discussions and meetings, with a response to the new government’s position towards the APD.
The APD was billed as an environmental tax by the British Government, which places countries in charging bands, based on the distance of their capital cities from London. This means that flying from London to Los Angeles or Hawaii in the US is calculated as being the same as to Washington D.C. (B and B), while destinations in the Caribbean are charged at a higher rate of tax (in band C).
Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean have argued that this was an unfair tax, which puts the region at an economic disadvantage, and have been lobbying for the region to be placed in the same lower band as the United States.
In its ‘Programme for Government’, announced last month, the UK Government announced a reform of the taxation of air travel by switching from a per passenger to a per plane duty.
However, there has been concern about how this will affect Jamaica and the Caribbean. Minister Bartlett said it was not clear how any change would affect passengers and ticket cost and traffic into the Caribbean.
Mr. Bartlett was in London this week for a series of meetings, and media events to support the US$10 million tourism promotional blitz, aimed at preventing a fall out in the tourism sector, as a result of the recent joint police/military operations in West Kingston.
The Minister announced the promotional blitz on May 30, and said then that the move was aimed at allaying the concerns of stakeholder partners and potential visitors, and assured them that the country is open for business and remains a safe travel destination.