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UK Government Refuses to Change APD Hike Despite Protests from Caribbean Travel Authorities

In the face of strong opposition from the Caribbean holidays industry and the general UK tourism and travel industry, including airlines and major tour operators, the UK government said it would not change the recent APD tax increased announced last week.

UK Government Refuses to Change APD Hike Despite Protests from Caribbean Travel Authorities

It seems that the UK government is not budging to the pressure and strong opposition it received from major airlines and Caribbean travel authorities to amend what they deem to be an already "unfair" Air Passenger Duty (APD) before taking into account the recently announced eight per cent increase, due to take effect from 1st April 2012.

Just last week, a statement release from the Government confirmed that the planned APD tax increases would go ahead as previously announced by George Osborne during his autumn financial statement. However the Government had delayed its official publishing with all final conclusions regarding the APD hike until yesterday, where it revealed that it rejected all amendments proposed by the travel industry, adding that premium economy passengers would also continue to pay the same tax amount as those travelling in first class.

A week earlier over 50 tourist boards from the Caribbean including the tourist boards from the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and also Egypt wrote a letter to the Government warning them that further tax increases would have "serious consequences" for countries whose economies were heavily dependent on non-domestic travel and tourism.

The news hit had the Caribbean holiday industry in particular and badly affects the Caribbean region, which so heavily depends on tourism to sustain its economy. It is also bad news for UK travellers planning Caribbean holidays from April next year, as they will have to pay around 8 per cent more for the cost of their flights to Caribbean destinations.

The tax is highly unpopular among Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean due to the fact that even though the rate of APD is calculated by distance, the distance is worked out by calculating how many miles there are from London to the destination country's capital, which means that a passenger travelling to Hawaii will pay less APD than a passenger travelling to Barbados, for example, simply because Washington D.C. is closer in miles to London than Bridgetown, even though Bridgetown is far closer to London than Hawaii is. This means that UK travellers planning to book flights to the Caribbean next year can expect to pay a higher price on Caribbean flight fares, higher than if they would go on holiday to alternative tropical destinations in the American continent, like Miami for example.

Caribbean tourism officials and Caribbean hotels and resorts have blamed the rising Air Passenger Duty for the drastic fall in numbers of British travellers going on Caribbean holidays and the CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organisation) revealed it was "surprised and disappointed” by the Government's decision to keep increasing the tax further.

“Today’s announcement on the APD is a slap in the face for all Caribbean people,” Minister Ricky Skerritt, chairman of the CTO said. “It dismisses all of the research and information the CTO has provided to the British Government over the past three years.

“The Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region of the world and the British Government’s decision totally ignores the negative effect that APD is having on our economies and the Caribbean’s business partners in the UK travel industry.”

British Airways have reacted drastically to the news by announcing it slashed a planned recruitment drive scheduled for next year and had postponed some increases in their fleet capacity. Initially, the British flag carrier had planned to create 800 new jobs next year but claims it has now had to dramatically reduce this number.

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