WTTC backing region in fight against British APD
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday June 20, 2012 — Referring to Britain’s controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) as “a disease”, President and Chief Executive Officer of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) David Scowsill has called for a concerted effort to persuade the United Kingdom to discontinue its use with respect to travellers from that country to the Caribbean.
“Now we will have to go to war,” Scowsill declared, while addressing tourism stakeholders at the Caribbean Tourism Summit and Outlook Seminar 2012 at the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall in Montego Bay last weekend.
“This APD is a disease that will spread to other countries unless we stop it now. We have to find a different way to persuade the UK government on its view on the APD and this is going to require money, funds for the lobby organisations and one voice rather than independent voices that are shouting about the issue around the world,” he said.
The APD basically places countries in charging categories calculated on the distance of their capitals from London. As such, flying from London to Los Angeles or Hawaii in the United States is calculated as being the same as to the United States capital Washington, DC, while Caribbean destinations are charged at a higher rate.
The travel tax was introduced by the British government in 1994. Since then, there have been several increases, most recently in April this year.
Destinations throughout the Caribbean, which depend heavily on tourism as a source of revenue, have been lobbying the UK for a revision of the policy, arguing that it could reduce travel to the region.
“There has been much discussion around the UK’s Air Passenger Duty, which was increased again in April this year. Arguments and pleas by the industry have continued to fall on deaf ears,” Scowsill stated.
“The Caribbean industry has been at the forefront of the argument that the structure of APD leaves the region at a considerable competitive disadvantage compared to other destinations,” he said. Yet in spite of this, he noted, the UK Treasury does not listen.
He pointed out that apart from hurting the Caribbean region’s tourism sector, it is “actually harming the UK economy as well”.
“In fact, more is lost in terms of GDP (gross domestic product) contribution than the treasury gathers in APD tax revenue. Our recent research shows that removal of APD would result in an additional 91,000 British jobs being created and £4.2 billion added to the economy in 12 months,” he stressed.
Emphasizing that it was now time for the global industry to speak with one voice and one message, Scowsill urged the Caribbean tourism partners to join with the WTTC in the fight against the APD.
“We aim to work together with you to help provide solutions on which governments can take action. My commitment to you is that WTTC will unite the voices of our members with the inter-governmental agencies and organisations, and with those of the global industry and trade bodies. We will target our messages in a clear and unambiguous way,” he told the scores of delegates in attendance.