Two of the United Kingdom’s Caribbean news organisations railed against what they saw as the deleterious effects of Air Passenger Duty as they launched a new campaign to lobby the government.
The Caribbean News Network and CaribDirect.com joined forces to inform and rally the Caribbean community and holidaymakers travelling to the region to get behind their campaign, “A Fair Tax on Flying”.
The central tenet is “the disproportionate, and unfair impact it is having on Caribbean tourism,” said David Roberts of CaribDirect.
“Air passenger duty has had a detrimental effect on the Caribbean. I have heard of people travelling to the continent to get flights to the Caribbean because it still works out cheaper than flying from the UK,” he said,
“It is an unfair tax and the community needs to be made aware and lobby their respective MP and the government to bring about a desirable change.”
Luke Pollard of the Association of British Travel Agents said that air passenger duty had an “illogical structure”.
“[It] is supposed to be based on distance travelled, sees flights to and from the Caribbean being taxed at a higher rate than often much longer flights to the USA, including Hawaii. We encourage the Caribbean community and everyone who loves the islands to e-mail a letter voicing their opposition to the government.”
“The UK has incredibly close ties with the Caribbean, but the government’s policy on aviation tax is threatening these close bonds by pricing people out of visiting their families, as well as impacting on the jobs of those in the islands who depend on British holidaymakers,” Mr. Pollard said.
A family of four visiting the Caribbean will pay £324 tax in air passenger duty if travelling in economy, which increases to £628 in other classes. This has more than doubled since 2009 with more increases scheduled for 2013.
Support for the campaign has also been received from British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, the Caribbean Council, Newmont Travel, Caribbean Tourism Organisation, the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission and Paul Gladstone-Reid.
Virgin Atlantic said it had chosen to absorb the cost of the duty themselves, rather than pass it on to the customer and Colm Lacy, BA’s head of commercial at Gatwick Airport, insisted that it had damaged the leisure business.
“[The] Caribbean is unfairly penalised, which is why we continue to talk about it.”
The campaign kicked off with a seminar at the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission on Thursday, 29 November.
The panel comprised Carl Pheasey from BA, Lindsay Ingram from Newmont Travel, Moderator Paul Gladstone Reid, Carol Hay from the Caribbean Tourism Organization, David Jessop from Caribbean Council and Luke Pollard from ABTA.