The UK government’s decision to hike Air Passenger Duty has been described as “schizophrenic” by the UN World Tourism Organisation.
More than 100 tourism ministers met at World Travel Market yesterday (Wednesday) to condemn the tax, which [url=http://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/uk-raises-flight-taxes-again/]came into force at the start of this month[/]url].
The charges range from a £1 to £15 hike for economy passengers, to a £30 increase for premium passengers.
From November 2010 it is due to rise again – by a further £30 on long-haul economy fares by £60 in long-haul premium cabins.
British Airways said the effect of the two increases would mean the cost of a flight for a family of four to Australia for travel after November 1 next year would rise by at least £340.
The industry is lobbying hard for this second planned increase to be shelved.
The organisation’s secretary general Taleb Rifai said:
“APD is not an environmental measure, it is an anti-development measure.
“The British government is schizophrenic. It says it is committed to promoting development in poorer countries yet at the same time it has introduced a tax that is a terrible blow to their development.”
“APD will not only hurt poorer countries but also hurt the UK’s own tour operators.”
UNWTO assistant secretary general Geoffrey Lipman added: “With so much uncertainty underlying the global economy, this is not the time to do anything to upset the delicate economic balance.”
No one from the government was present to defend the tax, which has been universally condemned by the tourism sector.
The Caribbean regards the tax as being particularly unfair because APD is based on the distance from London to the capital city of the destination, rather than the miles flown.
In other words, passengers pay less tax to fly to Hawaii than Caribbean destinations, despite it being almost 3,000 miles further away.