Chairman of the CTO, Mr. Richard Skerritt, who is also the Minister of Tourism for St. Kitts & Nevis, said that the announcement by the British Government to delay the increase of the Air Passenger Duty (APD) later this year is a step in the right direction and is a small but important victory for the region.
Skerritt said that in their various meetings with the British Government, the CTO opposed the idea of a Per Plane Tax, for economic reasons. He said that they 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 (British) 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.”
According to the CTO, the Chancellor’s statement to his parliament that the arbitrary nature of the bands “appeared to believe that the Caribbean was further away than California,” is a clear recognition of a crucial issue that has been the focus of the strong lobbying efforts by the CTO, led by Chairman Ricky Skerritt and CTO allies in the private sector, the Caribbean High Commissions, and the Diaspora.
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.
Stakeholders in both the private and public sectors of tourism in the region have indicated that this new tax is already showing signs that it is hurting the arrival figures from the European market for the hotel side of the industry and even those travelers opting for a Caribbean cruise.
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.