Jamaican High Commissioner Calls for Scrapping of Air Passenger Duty
Anthony Johnson, Jamaica's High Commissioner to the UK has called for a total scrapping of the Air Passenger Duty (APD), believing that this would have a more significant impact on the number of travellers who book Jamaica holidays.
Last month the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced in the annual Budget that Air Passenger Duty (APD) would be frozen for 12 months.
However, many believe that this temporary freeze is not enough to protect the Caribbean tourism sector including Jamaica's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Anthony Johnson.
Mr Johnson is calling for the total scrapping of Air Passenger to Duty so that tourists travelling from the UK can book their Jamaica holidays without the extra expensive tax costs.
The freeze is due to take effect from April, 2011 but Mr Osborne warned that this freeze could just result in an even bigger APD increase in 2012.
Air Passenger Duty is a tax paid by airline travellers who use airports throughout the UK. Concerns have been raised by Caribbean governments over how this tax is calculated and structured because the APD on flights to the Caribbean is higher than that of flights to destinations in the United States which are further away.
Caribbean tourism ministers and government officials, including Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding, and Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, have held meetings with British ministers on the subject.
“We hoped we could replace the per passenger tax with a per plane tax. We have tried every possible option, but have reluctantly had to accept that all are currently illegal under international law,” Osborne explained.
Campaigners who had hope that the APD would be removed completely are hoping that this 12-month freeze will allow some time to review the matter.
Mr Osborne stated that the British Government would work with others to try and get the law changed and in the meantime they would look to improve the existing bands to ensure destinations are fairly priced by distance.
Mr Johnson added that he hoped that the delay in the APD rise would help to keep Jamaica’s tourism sector afloat as travellers look to plan their holidays to Jamaica before the tax is reviewed, and possibly increased next year.
“This is good news for tour operators, and all players in our tourism sector. Significant increases in airfares, at this time, would have hurt the industry. It is also good news for the UK Jamaican Diaspora. Families travelling home to Jamaica have already been feeling the strain, and this decision will keep the pressure off, for a while,” Mr Johnson explained.
He added that the Caribbean tourism sector would now be working on finding fair solutions which would offer less expensive holidays in Jamaica and the Caribbean to ensure it is a more affordable overall experience for holidaymakers.
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