MP calls Caribbean nationals to unite on APD tax
Julian Smith, the Conservative Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, told the Caribbean Question Time meeting in London that the issue of unfair APD on Caribbean holidays is likely to be solved thanks to the lobbying by Caribbean nationals.
Caribbean nationals living in the United Kingdom have been busy lobbying against the British government’s unfair airline passenger duty (APD) charges, and it appears that their hard work is likely to pay off.
Speaking at the Caribbean Question Time meeting in London recently, Julian Smith, the Conservative Member of Parliament in the UK, told attendees that if Caribbean nationals who are living in the UK work together, the British government could be forced to review the APD.
On 23rd March this year, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne stated that the British Government would be freezing APD for 12 months. Though the news was welcomed by those who had already booked Caribbean holidays or were planning to take holidays to the Caribbean over the next 12 months, the APD charges are still amongst the highest in the world.
APD was first introduced in 1994 and since its launch the government has increased the tax by a massive 2,600 per cent, leaving passengers that depart from the UK paying 12 times more APD on flights than the UK’s European neighbours. The air passenger duty is charged according to each group of countries and by the class of travel used by travellers. Tourists visiting Caribbean holiday destinations have to pay an extra £75 per person in economy class.
Jamaica and other Caribbean tourism officials have been lobbying against the unfair APD structuring because the current system means that travellers taking flights to their holidays in the Caribbean are paying more than those on flights to the United States, even though many U.S. flights travel further.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, and the island’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, have held meetings with British ministers about the issue, who have since taken the matter to Parliament to be reviewed.
Before the news of the APD freeze earlier this year, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s Secretary General, Hugh Riley, said he hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be reducing the amount of APD payable so that travellers from the UK and Europe would be encouraged to book Caribbean holidays.
The high APD is having a significant impact on tourism in the region and a knock-on effect on Caribbean hotels and resorts as well as local tourism-related businesses.
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