High airfares continue to be a “vexing issue” for people throughout the region, says the Citizens Against High Intra-Regional Caribbean Travel Taxes.
The group has started a petition to lobby governments in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for lower fares.
Last May, the group started an online petition and has so far garnered just over 20,000 signatures. Copies were delivered to heads of regional governments last month.
However, the group said in a short statement that so far only two heads of state have acknowledged receipt.
“Over the last two weeks, packages containing copies of the petition bearing over 20,000 signatures were dispatched to the offices of the CARICOM Heads of Government and the Secretariat in Guyana. Also included in the packages was a letter to each Head of Government, cogently outlining the case for dialogue on the vexing issue of high intra-regional Caribbean travel taxes and fees,” the group said.
“To date, only the Offices of the President of Guyana, His Excellency Brigadier David Granger and the Honourable Dr Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada have acknowledged receipt of our communication,” the statement said.
Efforts to reach Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds on the issue were unsuccessful.
The group said it was calling on the other CARICOM Heads of Government to respond to the petition submitted to their offices.
“By signing our petition, the people of the region are collectively asking to be heard on the important issue of intra-regional travel taxes. We hope that our leaders see it fit to engage with their constituents on this matter,” it said.
In its petition, the group pointed out that the region was heavily dependent on air transport to support the tourism industry, but said high and increasing taxes, fees and charges have contributed to a decline in intra-regional travel in recent years.
“CARICOM governments have turned regional airlines into major tax collectors and pushed the cost of travel beyond the reach of many Caribbean citizens,” the group said.
The petition was designed to put pressure on CARICOM governments to “re-evaluate” the current taxes, fees and charges regime on intra-regional travel.
“Over-taxing regional travel is counter-productive to regional connectivity and growth and productivity of our economies,” it said in its petition.
The online petition, which had 20,975 up to Monday afternoon, is ongoing and the group is now aiming for 25,000 signatures.