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Airport taxes leave UK near bottom of the travel league

By Peter Woodman

High airport taxes and costly fuel have driven the UK nearly to the bottom of a global table for travel and tourism price competitiveness.

On overall travel and tourism (T&T) competitiveness, the UK finished as high as fifth in a 141-nation table compiled by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum.

But on T&T prices, the UK was placed 140th out of 141, scoring just 2.7 points out of a possible seven.

In the breakdown to this category, the UK was 137th on ticket taxes and airport charges, 56th on hotel prices and 136th on fuel price levels.

The UK also fared badly on a category listed as "index of terrorism incidence" where it was in 129th place, with its overall placing for safety and security being 63rd.

On health and hygiene the UK was 49th, but it scored well on business environment (coming seventh), cultural resources/business travel (seventh) and air transport infrastructure (seventh).

Spain was top of the table for overall T&T competitiveness, with France second, Germany third and the USA fourth.

Responding to the forum's report, airlines bemoaned the low placing of the UK on price competitiveness, pointing out that most countries do not have airport taxes such as the UK's Air Passenger Duty (APD).

Nathan Stower, chief executive of the British Air Transport Association, which represents 11 UK carriers including British Airways, said: "We knew APD is sky high compared with our competitors in Europe.

"We know now that it is one of the least competitive taxes in the world.

"The next government should end this damaging tax on trade, tourism and families and abolish APD in the new parliament."

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