Baroness Floella Benjamin, Liberal Democrat Peer, has called for the Government to reform both the structure and level of Air Passenger Duty to the Caribbean. Baroness Benjamin led a debate yesterday in the House of Lords focussing on the human cost of rising APD. It is thought that high levels of APD have contributed to a significant fall in visitor numbers from the UK to the islands which are also illogically taxed at a higher rate than flights to the USA, despite flight distances being often considerably shorter.
Baroness Benjamin said: “I raised the debate on the impact of Air Passenger Duty because I wanted to focus people’s mind on the human story behind tourism and the unintended impact that aviation taxes like Air Passenger Duty can have on development. Tourism provides a vital lifeline to developing countries all over the world in terms of jobs, GDP and investment, so a threat to tourism is a threat to the people in those countries that depend on tourism.”
“I believe that the APD banding system introduced in 2009 was not intended to damage Caribbean tourism, but the law of unintended consequences has come in to play and evidence suggests that it is having a negative impact on the most tourism dependent region of the world – the Caribbean. We must consider how government policy and proposed reforms to APD impact upon developing countries”.
Luke Pollard, ABTA Head of Public Affairs said: “As the APD consultation enters its final month we need to redouble our efforts to highlight the unfairness in this tax. Baroness Benjamin’s debate illustrates clearly that the real impact of APD is felt by the people of the Caribbean not just by the region’s GDP. This debate helped to highlight again that the Government’s belief that aviation is under taxed is wrong. Evidence from the Caribbean is that the current punitive levels of tax are hurting economies and families alike. ABTA is urging the industry to ensure they submit their views to the Treasury as part of the campaign to introduce a fairer tax on flying before the deadline on 17 June.”
Josef Forstmayr, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association commented: “The high cost of Air Passenger Duty is having a negative impact on visitor numbers from the UK. We are pleased to see that members of the House of Lords recognise that aviation taxation is not just a commercial threat but a threat to the people of the Caribbean who in one way or another rely on tourism for their livelihoods”.