Region welcomes APD freeze
BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Wednesday March 23, 2011 – The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) although welcoming the decision of the British Chancellor to delay the increase in the Air Passenger Duty (APD) later this year, says the regional organisation will continue to argue that the current banding system places the Caribbean at a disadvantage and hurts their economies.
Britain’s Finance Minister George Osborne today told the House of Commons that there will be no increase in the tax until 2012. He also indicated that a consultation would be held “to improve the existing and rather arbitrary bands that appear to believe that the Caribbean is further away than California”.
The CTO said in a release following the announcement that Chancellor Osbourne’s latter statement is a clear recognition of a crucial issue that has been the focus of the strong lobbying efforts by the organisation led by its Chairman, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Tourism, Richard “Ricky” Skerritt, and CTO allies in the private sector, the Caribbean High Commissions, and the Diaspora.
The CTO said it will persist in efforts to obtain “a fairer system of aviation taxation that does not cripple travel to our heavily tourism-dependent region”.
“Today’s announcement by the Chancellor is a small but important victory for the Caribbean. In our various meetings with the British Government CTO opposed the idea of a Per Plane Tax for economic reasons. We also asked that the existing banding system be reviewed; for no more increases in the APD; and for it to be revised downwards in a new, fairer system. The Chancellor’s speech gives us positive results on all three points,” said CTO, adding that it is therefore clear evidence that the British government “is listening to our concerns and that we have been effective in expressing them publicly and privately.”
The CTO said it is also pleased that the groups have been officially invited to continue to participate in further APD consultation over the coming weeks.
“In so doing, we will continue to argue that the current banding system places the Caribbean at a disadvantage and hurts our economies. We will persist in our efforts to obtain a fairer system of aviation taxation that does not cripple travel to our heavily tourism-dependent region,” said the CTO release.
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