News Americas, LONDON, England, Thurs. Mar. 20, 2014: A tourist flying to the Caribbean from the UK will soon shell out less to get there, thanks to reforms of the controversial Air Passenger Duty announced by British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne Wednesday.
Right now, flying to the Caribbean costs an additional £83 to £166 in taxes to the British government on an outbound ticket. Little wonder that visitor arrivals to the Caribbean from Britain has been on a decline since 2011.
But all that could change come April 1, 2015. That’s the date Chancellor Osborne announced that all long-haul flights will be moved into ‘Band B,’ meaning customers travelling to the Caribbean will pay the same as if they were travelling to the US.
APD under the British plan is currently calculated by measuring the distance between London and the final destination’s capital city, with different contributions divided into four bands.
Band A covers flights of less than 2,000 miles, B those between 2,001 and 4,000 miles, C applies between 4,001 and 6,000, and D to those further than 6,000 miles. The Caribbean ended up in the latter two bands because of the distance between London and the region. However, from April 1, 2015, APD on long-haul flights between 4,001 and 6,000 miles will be reduced by £16 per person, while those over 6,000 miles will be cut by £27.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization which has been lobbying for a change since 2011, on Wednesday welcomed the announcement with delight.
Beverly Nicholson-Doty, chairman of the CTO, in a statement said: “We are delighted that the Chancellor has finally accepted the Caribbean’s proposal made in November 2010 to return to the simpler and fairer two band system.
“This is a complete victory for the Caribbean, which, led by the CTO, has been lobbying against the unfair system which charged a higher rate of APD on flights to Barbados than Hawaii and placed the United States at a competitive advantage.”
The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, (CHTA), also welcomed the news.
“The Caribbean region has finally achieved one of its goals and will be fairly taxed in comparison to a flight to the United States,” said Richard J. Doumeng, president of CHTA while Jeffrey S. Vasser, CHA, director general and CEO of CHTA added: “With today’s announcement to a two-band system the Caribbean region will no longer be penalized.”
Caribbean island nations Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Barbados also welcomed the announcement.
The Chancellor’s rationale behind the reform is that a lower cost of flying makes it more affordable for UK families to travel overseas.
Chancellor George is giving lobbyists no credit. Instead, the budget states the decision was made “to help British businesses strengthen links with high growth markets, and to go further to make the UK an attractive option for business visitors and tourists.”
The reform is expected to save passengers and businesses travelling long-haul more than £200 million annually.
APD has risen by up to 470 per cent since 2007, making passengers flying from UK airports among the most heavily taxed in the world.