Jamaica Observer) The Caribbean has failed in its lobby to get the United Kingdom (UK) to place it in a band which would see tourists to the region paying similar Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates as those to several rival destinations. Not only has the UK refused to grant the Caribbean the requested design change to the banded system, but London has also announced a 10 per cent hike in the controversial tax as of next April.
On Tuesday, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett expressed disappointment that the arrangement was not adjusted to establish only two bands for long and short haul respectively, and that a rate adjustment was not embraced.
He told the Observer that the Caribbean had been hopeful the UK would implement a Band A for short hauls in Europe and a Band B to incorporate the rest of the world.
“This would mean that the United States markets, which are farther away from London, would not have the advantage of a lower rate,” he said.
“Despite our intensive lobby efforts, not only has the UK Government refused to adjust the banding system, but they have increased the rate.
Hence they have rejected every recommendation the Caribbean and other partners have put forward, thus making a mockery of their call for consultation,” Bartlett added. With the UK moving fast to put this new decision into legislation, Bartlett said there appears to be no further scope for dialogue on the issue.
As such, he said, the Caribbean will have to take a new look at its marketing strategies and the market diversification programme which will see a stronger emphasis on emerging markets as the energy from which growth in visitor arrivals will be derived.