Regional governments are being called upon to follow in the footsteps of their British counterparts and lower taxes on regional air travel.
President of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA), Patricia Affonso-Dass made the suggestion as she gave a report during the association’s first quarterly breakfast meeting for this year.
Speaking to a large audience at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today, Affonso-Dass said given the lowering of the controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) recently, it was time regional governments re-examine taxes on regional travel.
The British chancellor announced last week that from April 2015 there would be a reduction in the APD, good news for industry players here. The APD will be simplified into a two-band system with Band A for short haul flights of less than 2,000 miles from London and Band B for all long haul flights more than 2,000 miles from London.
“In light of this consideration of the reduction of the APD in the UK it would seem an excellent opportunity for Caribbean governments to take a serious re-look at the taxes on regional air travel with a view to reducing the overall cost of travel thereby increasing visitor numbers,” said Affonso-Dass.
She said: “There is ample proof, most recently supplied when lower air fares were available through RedJet, that reasonable airfares result in exponential increases in persons travelling which in turn increases spend, reduces unemployment and strengthens local economies.”
Thanking all the players in the industry responsible for getting Britain to lower the APD, Affonso-Dass said it was now the duty of officials here to “ensure that the more fair APD structure reduces the deterrent to travel and allows us to become more aggressive
in recapturing” the British market.
“We look forward to a positive impact on our arrivals out of the UK. The minister in his ten-point plan last year had indicated that he would look to pay the APD for UK passengers. This is no longer necessary and we hope that those funds would be diverted to other productive marketing efforts,” she said.
Affonso-Dass also said the BHTA continued to have challenges with LIAT in providing reliable service and competitive pricing out of major Caribbean territories.
“The Caribbean arrivals have declined due to unpredictable travel schedules, which have been compounded by the change over to the newer aircraft which created a shortage of pilots to fly the old aircraft,” said Affonso-Dass.
She added, however, that there were ongoing discussions with the airline to iron out the issue.