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Region's Tourism Ministers take common aproach to save Caribbean holidays from controversial UK tax

Caribbean countries are uniting in a common approach to establish how they will adapt to the increased Air Duty Passenger tax imposed by Britain and due to take place from November 2011.

Region's Tourism Ministers take common aproach to save Caribbean holidays from controversial UK tax

In order to try and protect Caribbean holidays, various Caribbean Tourism Ministers have agreed on a common approach to the UK administration and its controversial forthcoming tax on airline tickets which is known as the Air Passenger Duty (APD) which is set to increase this November.

According to tourism industry experts, the tax, which has already affected UK visitor arrivals to Caribbean holidays will deal a blow on the economies of the region and other developing countries.

To face the situation, St Lucia’s Tourism Minister, Honourable Allan Chastanet, says his regional counterparts have all agreed to implement some decisive plans to ensure that the Caribbean’s position is well represented at ongoing negotiations on the controversial travel tax.

Under the classification economy class, UK passengers travelling to St Lucia holidays and other holiday destinations in the Caribbean will be subject to paying an additional 70 to 150 pounds on their plane tickets.

“The next step for us is continuing our bilateral discussions with the UK government. We have always indicated we do not have a difficulty with any government that wants to raise revenue through taxation. The problem arises when taxation is done in a manner where it prejudices trade, or discriminates against trade in this region—that is our concern.”

“We think the four bands leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t think anyone needs to be a brain surgeon to realise our concern when the tax is increased to the extent, that a premium economy class tickets will increase the cost by $EC600.”

Minister Chastanet says Caribbean tourism ministers have decided to launch a formal complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the UK government because the Airport Passenger Duty (APD) is discriminatory in nature.

"A study was done which confirms to us that this tax does infringe on GATT, because it is discriminatory. If you look at the example of Turkey and Egypt, the APD on Turkey will be between 12 to 24 pounds sterling. For Egypt which is right next to Turkey, it is going to be between 60 to 120 pounds. Clearly, there is also the a situation where people can come to the Caribbean and pay between 70 to 150 pounds versus going to Hawaii where they will pay between 60 to 120 pounds. Indeed, there are numerous examples to show that this tax is discriminatory that is why we are preparing a paper to file the complaint with the WTO.”

The Air Passenger Duty (APD) is an excise duty which is charged on the carriage of passengers flying from a United Kingdom airport on an aircraft that has an authorized take off weight of more than ten tones or more than twenty seats for passengers.

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