The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Caribbean Tourism Organization have welcomed recently published research by the World Travel and Tourism Council confirming the significant value of travel and tourism to jobs and growth and the damaging effect of Air Passenger Duty to the industry. This is something that has long been recognised in the Caribbean, the most tourism dependent region in the world.
Pointing out that the Caribbean continues to suffer the negative impact of APD on arrivals from the UK and fears that the situation will be made worse by the increase scheduled for April 2012, Richard “Ricky” Skerritt, Caribbean Tourism Organization Chairman and Minister of Tourism for St. Kitts and Nevis, said:
“For as long as the UK retains the current four band Air Passenger Duty system, which sees UK passengers to the Caribbean charged more in duty than those travelling much greater distances to US destinations, the Caribbean is placed at an unjustifiable competitive disadvantage. “The UK government’s response to its consultation on reform of Air Passenger Duty was a slap in the face for the Caribbean. This issue is so central to the economic development of the Caribbean and to its 800,000 strong community in the UK that we will continue to argue that we must be included in the same band as the US.”
Commenting in reference to the research conducted by Oxford Economics for the World Travel and Tourism Council relating to the sensitivity of passengers to changes in air fares, Josef Forstmayr, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, added:
“The study reflects the huge economic contribution that travel and tourism makes. A significant proportion of visitors to the Caribbean originate in the UK. Those visitors are vital to both the Caribbean economy and to UK airlines, tour operators, travel agents and all of the companies providing back office services and supplies to the industry. This close link means that as arrivals to the Caribbean from the UK fall, Air Passenger Duty is damaging both Caribbean and UK businesses.
“Increases in Air Passenger Duty since 2009 have had a negative impact on UK-Caribbean Tourism,” Mr. Forstmayr said. “Air Passenger Duty is no longer a tax based on environmental principles. There can therefore be no reason for discriminating against destinations based on distance travelled. For this reason, The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association passed a resolution in January 2012 asking Caribbean governments through the Caribbean Tourism Organization to explore all available legal options”.