The tax which is based on the distance being travelled by tourists, originating from source markets such as England, seeks to penalize long-haul destinations, such as those in the Caribbean, including St. Kitts & Nevis.
The British government has sought to defend its new fiscal measure, as one that is needed to help offset carbon emissions. In light of these concerns therefore, they have decided to spike the rate for the Caribbean, by more than 50%.
According to details outlined in the British government information website (direct.gov),”since November 2009 there have been four destination bands used to calculate, Air Passenger Duty), APD.
“These bands are based on the distance between London and the capital city of the destination country or territory. Each band has two rates of duty depending upon the class of travel.”
Caribbean countries are in Band C, while the USA – including Hawaii -is in Band B, which is much less expensive.
In response to these new developments, regional tourism ministers, including St. Kitts & Nevis’ Richard Skerritt, have been seeking to establish closer alliances with international partners, to fight against what could become a burden on Caribbean tourism.
Skerritt and his counterparts have been arguing that it will make the cost of travelling to the region from the UK, too expensive, resulting in fewer British tourists, and a knock-on effect for Caribbean economies.
While in London this week for the annual World Travel Market, WTM, Caribbean Tourism officials hosted a forum attended by several other countries which are equally affected by the tax.
According to Skerritt, who is also the current Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the meeting had participation from representatives from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
Skerritt explained that the gathering resulted in a joint appeal to the British government to a review the controversial tax. The issue has also been referred to the United Nations tourism body, The World Tourism Organization.
In proposals submitted to the British government, Caribbean nations have submitted recommendations for changes to the controversial air passenger duty, including a re-banding of the tax – to remove what it says are unfair charges on long distance destinations.