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Lobby against APD rises intensifies as Caribbean holidays push for re-consideration of charges

As Caribbean forces continue to fight over the newly imposed APD tax increase, governments are lobbying for a further revision to the new charges which have taken effect since 1st November 2010, damaging the whole holiday industry for British travellers.

Lobby against APD rises intensifies as Caribbean holidays push for re-consideration of charges

Just last Friday Caribbean governments united and ramped up their efforts to have the UK government re-consider their recent sharp increase of the air passenger duty (APD), a new tax rise that could really cause trouble for the Caribbean holidays industry.

Speaking on behalf of Jamaica holidays, and how these would be affected by the APD tax increase, Jamaica's tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, along with a delegation of Caribbean tourism ministers and high commissioners, met with members of the Scottish Parliament, in Scotland on Friday afternoon, in continuation of the lobby against the APD.

The controversial tax that is applied to the cost of airline tickets originating in the UK has resulted in a reduction in bookings for several countries in the region. In commenting on the high level talks, Bartlett said that the deliberations went extremely well. He revealed that they had extensive discussions with the Cross Party Group, which consists of representatives from Scotland's Conservative, Labour and Green parties.

Bartlett emphasised that the group has undertaken to take the campaign against the APD to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, an organisation, of British origin, which works to support democracy, good governance, and human rights. The Cross Party Group also intends to enlist the support of human rights and ethics activists groups, as they see the tax as discriminatory. They maintain that the duty will deny thousands of persons the opportunity to visit their loved ones in times of distress and need.

Amid mounting concerns over the implications of the increased duty for the future of Caribbean holidays, the Caribbean delegation outlined the economic impact it has already had and the deleterious impact it will continue to have on the economies of Caribbean nations, which are dependent on tourism.

In fact, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation has reported that the number of visitors to the region from the UK has decreased since the sharp increase in the APD earlier this month. On November 1, the APD was increased from 50 pounds (US$77) to 75 pounds (US $115) for economy-class travellers to the Caribbean; and from 100 pounds (US$154) to 150 pounds (US$291) for premium economy, business and first-class passengers.

While the matter of the APD was the main focus of the discussions, the issue of heritage tourism was also explored, as the historic links between Caribbean nations, such as Jamaica, and Scotland were examined. Bartlett noted that there are various avenues for heritage tourism that will be explored with Scotland seeing so many individuals from that country are linked genealogically to Jamaica and the Caribbean through the plantation system. He thinks this reality presents an opportunity to encourage Scots to visit Jamaica in order to rediscover their roots.

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