Virgin Atlantic has revealed plans to expand its Caribbean routes, despite fears that the sharp rise in UK Air Passenger Duty could deter Brits from travelling.
Pledging its commitment to the Caribbean, Virgin announced plans to add flights to Barbados, Cuba, Tobago and Grenada from this winter. It is also planning to offer 14% more Premium Economy seats on Caribbean services.
Earlier this year, Virgin announced plans to stop flying to Kingston, Jamaica, from next April, due to the ‘impending unsustainability of the route. According to reports, The rising cost of fuel and Air Jamaica’s planned re-launch of a London to Kingston service were among the factors the airline considered in reaching its decision.
But during the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s State of the Industry conference, Edmund Rose, Virgin Atlantic director of commercial and revenue planning, revealed: “The Caribbean is tremendously important to Virgin Atlantic.”
The sharp rise in APD is thought to have had a great impact on the tourist-dependent Caribbean, which falls into a higher tax band than the US. Many industry professionals fear that APD distorts the tourism market and could damage economic prosperity.
David Scowsill, President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), has called on the UK government to abolish the Air Passenger Duty (APD) as it harms the Caribbean economy and the Caribbean community living in the UK.
“APD has always been a blunt instrument and a bad tax. The distance-based system is discriminatory to the Caribbean and the Caribbean people living in the UK. The Caribbean is closer to the UK than the US West Coast, yet it is in a higher band,”
Next month, The World Travel Awards Caribbean & The Americans ceremony, will take place at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island in Jamaica. The event is set to attract the top decision-makers and thought-leaders from across the Americas and Caribbean as they compete for the most influential accolades in travel.