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19 Dec, 2013

Defeat for PATA: UK unlikely to adjust APD


12.16.2013. Source: West Indies News Network- The British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean says she does not expect her government to revisit its Air Passenger Duty (APD) rate to the Caribbean any time soon.

“It’s something that lots of people around the Caribbean have raised with me, and they’re right to do it… I understand some of the impact this is having and how strongly people feel about it, and I think the Caribbean in some ways has a good case to make,” High Commissioner Victoria Dean said on Wednesday.

“My Foreign Secretary William Hague discussed this in Sri Lanka earlier this year… with a number of leaders from this region, and they made very clear to him again their concerns about the impact that this was having, and he said that he understood those concerns, that he was unlikely to be able to change this soon with the way that the UK economy is faring at the moment asking my government to do something expensive isn’t easy to do; but that he understood the concerns and that he took away to have a look at it once again with his colleagues at Treasury,” she told WINN FM during an interview on the Breakfast Show.


This is another huge defeat for PATA whose CEO Mr Martin Craigs sought to make attacks on the APD a centrepiece of his “advocacy” platform almost from the day he took over in November 2011. Other travel industry leaders have also heaped scorn on the APD. Clearly, it’s all going to come to naught.

Next issue to watch: Higher security taxes right across the travel, tourism and transport chain. Easy pickings for the security contractors. Who’s going to argue against the need to “boost security”?

“I have to be honest with you I don’t think it’s going to change very, very soon, but I do understand the concerns of the Caribbean on this issue,” she added.

The APD is an excise duty which is charged to passengers travelling on flights from the UK. The Caribbean is lumped into the highest tax band that makes travel to the region more expensive than travelling from London to the United States.

Caribbean governments and tourism stakeholders have argued that it is unfair to a region that is tourism dependent, and have been lobbying to have the tax removed. The UK government instead, in April increased the rate.

Dean said on Wednesday she was not convinced that the higher APD was a deterrent for passengers travelling from the UK. She said there was some indication in Barbados that arrivals from the UK were increasing, and she that she was not sure that travellers considered the breakdown of the cost of airfare, looking rather at the overall cost of trip.