The legality of the new air passenger duty which has increased considerably the cost of tickets from the UK to the Caribbean has been questioned.
Chairman of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, Peter J. Odle, said that the Caribbean Tourism Organisation has issued a paper questioning whether the UK can validly benefit from taxing individuals who are flying through other territories’ airspace.
‘Do they have the right to impose a tax on someone who flies through another country’s sovereign airspace?’
CHTA had ‘most definitely not given up’ on the issue. There has been a letter-writing campaign on the issue from the Caribbean Diaspora, said Mr. Odle. He said the Caribbean could in fact indirectly influence the political set-up in the UK.
‘We have identified that within the political structure constituency in the UK there are 41 seats that are really voter-controlled by the Caribbean Diaspora and depending on how the Diaspora votes those 41 seats could swing either way.’
Politicians like votes, he concluded.
The new tax places the Caribbean in a higher band than the United States, because London to Washington is a shorter journey than London to any Caribbean destination.
This means that despite the considerably longer journey to Los Angeles, or Hawaii, for example, it still attracts a lower tax.
The CHTA, and other bodies with which it is working, are therefore trying to get the Caribbean repositioned into the same category as the United States.
‘We have put forward that the community of common interests may be applied and Bermuda be considered a point of community common interest for the Caribbean.’
Bermuda would be considered to be in the American tax band, highlighting the diversity of the Caribbean region further.