The Association of British Travel Agents has weighed into the UK government’s decision to raise Air Passenger Duty in November, and called for a meeting with the Treasury.
ABTA says the increases will particularly harm low-income families as well as tourism in developing countries. And that the changes will erode the UK’s inbound tourism numbers as foreign visitors will be forced to pay a higher APD on the return leg of their journey.Writing to the Treasury, ABTA’s head of development, Andy Cooper, said: “We are very concerned as to the impacts of the changes, particularly on families. These changes are going to affect low-income families who only take one holiday each year.”
“Many customers will simply not be able to afford the new rates of tax, and will have to change their booking patterns, causing huge damage to economies that are dependent upon British tourists.”
Has asks the Government to reconsider the changes to APD, or even possibly scrap the tax altogether, taking the lead from the Dutch government, which agreed this week to abolish the tax from July.
The APD has come under widespread criticism across the industry. The Government argues it will reduce carbon emission, but environmentalists say it discourages carbon-offsetting as passenger already think they have done “their bit” for the environment.
The new charges will be divided into four “bands”: A, flights up to 2,000 miles; B, flights between 2001-4000 miles; C, covering trips between 4,001-6,000 miles and band D, for all journeys more than 6,000 miles.
The changes to APD will hit medium and long-haul travellers hardest. A family of four flying to Jamaica, for example, will pay £300 in APD from November 2010, over twice the current figure.
However various anomalies have also been created due to the restructure. For example, all charges to a particular country are calculated by measuring the distance from the UK to the destination country’s capital city. This means a passenger will be charged the same APD whether flying to New York or Los Angeles, which are over 2,000 miles apart.
Other criticisms include the impact that APD has on regional passengers who are forced to fly via London, forcing them to pay the tax twice if they are travelling with two different airlines.