The announcement made by British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, of changes to the Air Passenger Duty (APD) that will prove favourable to Jamaica and the Caribbean has been welcomed by Tourism and Entertainment Minister, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill.
The changes will come into effect in April 2015 and will see the axing of APD bands C and D for flights of more than 4,000 miles. All long-haul flights will now carry the same, lower, band B tax rate, meaning persons travelling to the Caribbean will pay the same as if they were travelling to the United States.
“This is a major victory for the Caribbean community, which has been intensely lobbying for several years against the UK’s unfair APD band system which makes it costlier to fly to the Caribbean than to rival destinations like Hawaii in the United States, giving them a competitive advantage,” said Minister McNeill. “The unrelenting efforts of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Ministers of Tourism across the region, the Caribbean Diaspora in the UK, the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and other tourism partners, have paid off,” the Minister added.
He also joined the CTO in welcoming the acceptance of the recommendation made by the Caribbean. “We welcome the announcement and are heartened at the fact that the Caribbean’s recommendation for the use of a two band system has now been accepted,” the Minister expressed.
The CTO in welcoming the announcement added that “effective April 2015, the APD will be simplified into a two band system: band A for short haul flights of less than 2000 miles from London and band B for all long haul flights more than 2000 miles from London. The new band B will be charged at the planned rate in 2015-16 (£71 for reduced rate passengers and £142 for standard rate passengers).”
Britain introduced the controversial travel tax in 1994. The APD was increased regularly, making billions in revenues for the UK government but increasing the price to travel from the UK to regions such as the Caribbean. In addition to adversely affecting tourism-dependent economies like the Caribbean, a 2012 study by the WTTC revealed that removing the APD would result in the creation of an additional 91,000 British jobs and £4.2 billion being added to that economy in 12 months.