Record numbers of visitors are expected to descend upon West London for the Notting Hill Carnival this bank holiday weekend, thanks to the start of the Paralympic Games.
Thousands of officers will be deployed for the event, including specialist officers and technology, as Europe’s biggest carnival, celebrates Caribbean culture and the UK’s close ties with the islands.
The colourful carnival will pass along Westbourne Grove, Chepstow Avenue, Great Western Road, Kensal Road and Ladbroke Grove.
Music is at the heart of Notting Hill Carnival, with traditional and contemporary sounds filling the air for miles around. Historically steel bands, Soca & Calypso Music have been at the heart of Carnival but in recent years these have been overtaken by the static sound systems playing anything from Reggae to R&B, Funk, House, and Dub.
Live stages also feature local bands, top international artists and sounds from around the world – Eddie Grant, Jamiroquai, Wyclef Jean, Courtney Pine and Burning Spear have been among the eclectic line up in previous years.
ABTA has warned that these ties are being severely tested by the UK’s aviation tax policies. Thousands are being priced out of trips to and from the Caribbean by the UK’s sky high rates of aviation tax which have contributed to a 17% drop in visits to the Caribbean and a 32% drop from the islands to the UK over the last 5 years.
A family of four visiting grandparents in the Caribbean, for example, will pay £324 tax in Air Passenger Duty if travelling in economy which increases to an eye-watering £628 in other classes. This has more than doubled since 2009 with more increases scheduled for 2013.
In addition the illogical structure of APD, which is supposed to be based on distance travelled, sees flights to and from the Caribbean being taxed at a higher rate than often much longer flights to the USA, including Hawaii. This is because APD places countries into bands based on the location of their capital city.
ABTA is calling on the Caribbean community and others who love the islands, to get behind the Fair Tax on Flying campaign and go to http://www.afairtaxonflying.org to e-mail a letter to their local MP, or if they live abroad to contact the Chancellor, expressing their opposition to high levels of aviation tax.
Almost 100,000 people have already done so and pressure is growing on the Government to commission a report into the impact of APD on the wider economy and rethink their plans on current levels and future increases.
Victoria Bacon said: “The UK has incredibly close ties with the Caribbean and the Notting Hill carnival is a joyous celebration of that shared history. However, the Government’s misguided and illogical policy on aviation tax is threatening these close bonds as it is pricing people out of visiting their families, as well as impacting on the jobs of those in the islands who depend on British holidaymakers for their livelihoods. The Fair Tax on Flying campaign is calling on the Caribbean community and everyone who loves the islands to go to http://www.afairtaxonflying.org and e-mail a letter voicing their opposition to the Government.”
Carol Hay, Director of marketing UK and Europe, Caribbean Tourism Organisation said: “The Caribbean Tourism Organisation continues to lobby the government against APD and the unfair banding to our region. We deeply regret that after all our efforts so far, we have been unable to achieve more parity with other long haul destinations.
“It will be great to see so many people enjoying themselves at the Notting Hill Carnival this weekend and getting into the holiday spirit; but many people there will be missing out on seeing their friends and family because they simply cannot afford to travel home this year. One of the major reasons will be this unfair tax. We should also not overlook the impact this is having on businesses back in the Caribbean, which is still the most tourism-dependent region in the world.”
The Notting Hill Carnival, which began in 1964 as a local festival that was set up by local West Indian immigrants, now attracts millions of visitors from around the world each year. One million visitors were present in 2010.
This year, The Carnival Bands will take to the roads from 9am on Sunday 26th August and on Monday 27th of August. The Carnival parade is expected to complete its procession by 7pm.
Why not check out London.Mobi to find out what else is happening in the capital this bank holiday weekend.