Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has welcomed the decision by the UK Government to reduce the Air Passenger Duty rates for long-haul flights departing from Northern Ireland.
“We are heartened by this decision by the UK Government,” he said. “I think this is the clearest indication yet that the UK Government is indeed giving some thought to the concerns expressed in consultations by stakeholders, including representatives from the Caribbean, about the negative impact this onerous tax continues to have on regions like ours and the need for a change in the architecture of the APD.
“The reduction is clearly in reaction to evidence that travellers are being impacted on by the cost of the APD and are willing to travel longer distances to reduce the duty they have to pay. This has seen passengers travelling from Belfast to Dublin where they pay only £2.50 in taxes, which is significantly lower than the minimum of £75 they would have to pay in economy from Belfast, Northern Ireland.”
Minister Bartlett emphasised that the lobby to have the UK Government review the regime will continue in earnest. “In light of what we consider to be a very positive sign that the UK government is taking concerns about the APD seriously, Jamaica will continue to play its role in the long-standing lobby to ensure that a fair and equitable architecture is arrived at.
“The region is still concerned about the regime as the current tax burden placed on British travellers to the Caribbean continues to have a deleterious effect on the region’s tourism earnings. The Caribbean would prefer to see the introduction of a multilateral measure that treats all airlines and countries equally and that can be linked to development and particularly to the risk the region faces from climate change.”
The Tourism Minister stressed his support for the proposal suggested by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, which has also welcomed the reduction. “The CTO’s proposal to the UK government was for a less discriminatory approach to the computation of the tax that is imposed. The Caribbean has recommended that the band arrangement be adjusted to establish only two bands for long- and short-haul respectively, in addition to a rate adjustment. What this would provide is an alternative revenue neutral solution that is more closely aligned to actual carbon emissions as opposed to the arbitrary classifications based on bands.”