ABTA has declared itself largely unimpressed with chancellor Alistair Darling’s Budget, with a series of measures impacting negatively on the travel industry.
Presenting the final Budget before an expected May 6th general election, the chancellor confirmed rules regarding Furnished Holiday Lettings will be repealed.
This is despite representations from ABTA and its members to reform the system.
The Conservative Party, however, recently suggested it would act to negate the negative economic impact of the changes, should it take power after the next election.
Air Passenger Duty (APD) is has also been held, with further increases already announced to take effect in November 2010.
APD will thereafter rise by inflation on an annual basis.
Luke Pollard, ABTA head of public affairs said: “This budget is largely as expected. There are no big headline rises in taxes for the sector, while there is support for businesses.
“However, whichever government is elected on May 6th will need to tackle deficit, which is likely to mean a combination of public sector cuts and increased taxation still to come.”
Labour did, however, reiterate its support for the expansion of Heathrow Airport. A sixth terminal and third runway at one of the world’s busiest airports therefore remains on the agenda, despite fierce opposition from residents’ groups and environmentalists.
Again, the Conservatives have suggested they will scrap the plan.
From a business perspective, there was also welcome news. Chancellor Darling confirmed banks with substantial public sector ownership – including RBS and Lloyds Banking Group - will lend more to businesses in the coming year.
Some £41 billion is set to be lent to small businesses, including the majority of ABTA members.
ABTA, however, has called for more action from the government to support the sector.
“We want a reform of Air Passenger Duty to a per-plane basis more closely aligned to distance travelled and the efficiency of the aircraft; and reform in consumer financial protection,” added Mr Pollard.
“We will lobby strongly against rises that seek to disproportionately burden our sector with additional taxes.”
Take a look at the full Budget here.