KINGSTON — Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says that coming out of recent discussions with representatives of the United Kingdom (UK) Government, there is possibility that the Air Passenger Duty (APD) band system could be revised, in favour of a more equitable scheme that would not put the Caribbean region at a disadvantage with the United States (US).
Mr. Bartlett was speaking to members of the business community and other stakeholders at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors Luncheon Forum held on November 15 at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
In the region’s continued lobby against the inequity in the APD application, Mr. Bartlett and Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) representatives last week, met with the UK’s Minister of the Treasury, Leonard Smith; and Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jeremy Browne, on the issue.
"We continue to agitate and campaign a position, which would see a more equitable application of the APD for the Caribbean in relation to America and the rest of the world, and also to fight hard to see if there is any room for reduction (in the duty)…we have called for a design change of the band system, which will allow for two bands only,” he explained.
The Tourism Minister lamented that under the current system, the Caribbean is in a separate band from the US, despite the fact that the distance between London and Hawaii is almost twice as much as the distance between Kingston and London.
"But Hawaii is in the US band, and therefore it is cheaper for the British tourist to fly from London or anywhere in the UK to the US, than to fly to Kingston or Montego Bay. We find that that is very iniquitous, and I think they have gotten the point. So that should help,” he stated.
The APD was increased a year ago from £50 to £75 per person for economy class seats and from £100 to £150 for premium economy, business and first class tickets.
The duty is an environmental levy 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. (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 want the region to be placed in the same band as the US.
By Alphea Saunders, JIS Reporter