The Caribbean high commissioners in the United Kingdom are gearing up to lobby the British Government for an ease in the Airline Passenger Duty and have secured 40,000 to assist them in this effort.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, gave an update on his recent visit to the UK to meet with players in the tourism industry.
The minister said the funds were sourced from a UK-based Jamaican Building Society to assist the diplomats in their fight. He also said the APD Steering Group of which Barbados’ high commissioner was a member, was fully on board with the initiative.
“High Commissioner [Hugh] Arthur is fully engaged along with the high commissioners from … Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia, among others, who are definitely keen and re-energised to engage the British Government. They will also be a 40,000 public campaign as part of the effort,” he added.
Sealy also said it was “good to hear” that the region was “making noise” on the APD and its impact on travellers.
“We don’t expect the APD to go away but at the same time, we can’t just go silent on the issue and we have to enlist some more partners because this thing is much larger than a tourism issue,” he emphasised.
While commending the high commissioners for taking the lead in this effort the minister pointed out that the West Indian and immigrant populations, who played an integral role in the development of the British economy, were affected by the APD.
“They [British Government] cannot just ignore the cries from these people that are performing a significant part of the lifeblood of their nation and… it is important from a tourism point of view especially for Barbados, because [Britain] is our major source market, but it is also important for those many Barbadians and others who are living in that society who are affected want to come home to visit a sick relative or to attend a funeral.”
“I am not saying that the ticket should be tax free, but it [the taxes] should be within reach,” Sealy added.