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Leading Travel Agents and Officials call on new government to reform Travel Taxes

Travel agents and travel brands are urging the new coalition government to scrap the proposed increase in Air Passenger Duty and instead make changes to the financial protection scheme for the Air Travel Organisers' Licence.

Leading Travel Agents and Officials call on new government to reform Travel Taxes

Leading travel agents, tour operators and industry officials spoke at a recent Association of British Travel Agents' (ABTA) conference and urged the new appointed government to scrap the APD rises which are due to be effective from later this year and concentrate their efforts on improving the financial protection scheme for the Air Travel Organisers' Licence (ATOL) which protects consumers.

The new coalition Conservative-Liberal Democrat government announced that they intend to scrap individual Air Passenger Duty and introduce a per-plan tax instead but travel agents and consumers are worried that these plans will not be put in place before the APD increases are due in November this year.

A controversial banding system is currently in place which bases APD on capital cities. For example from November, a family of four enjoying Barbados holidays will pay £600 in APD for premium flights to the Caribbean island, but the APD would be considerably lower if the family were flying to further afield destinations such as Hawaii.

Dermot Blastland, the Managing Director of TUI Travel UK, is urging the government to look at the impact the rising taxes will have on an already fragile market and dismissed reports that APD is a considered a green tax.

"APD doesn't encourage environmentally-sensible behaviour, as there is no incentive to get rid of inefficient aircraft. Travel is a very price-sensitive market, not at all a well-heeled, easy-to-tax area," Blastland said.

With ongoing disruption caused by strikes from British Airways and the volcanic ash cloud recently closing British airspace, the UK travel market is experiencing turbulent times as well as recovering from the aftermath of the global recession.

Chief Executive of ABTA, Mark Tanzer said:

"We face unprecedented upheaval on many levels: customers are less confident than they were before the volcanic ash cloud, we have civil unrest in some of our core destinations, and there are the BA strikes. What we need are fair taxes that don't suppress demand."

Last month ABTA carried out a campaign aimed at urging UK travellers to book their breaks with their travel agents and members to ensure that they are covered in the wake of the volcanic ash crisis.

The campaign's strap line for a series of regional print adverts read: "When it comes to having a great holiday, don't leave anything to chance."

It is hoped that the outcome of this will lead to more travellers booking ATOL protected holidays where consumers can enjoy stress-free breaks during these turbulent times.

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