Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Caribbean delegates in air tax call

Caribbean tourism chiefs are lobbying against what they see as unfair hikes in the amount of airport departure tax to the West Indies

A high-level Caribbean delegation will begin a three-day lobby in Britain on Monday against what it sees as unfair hikes in the amount of airport departure tax to the West Indies.

From November 1 this year, the amount of Air Passenger Duty (APD) Britons travelling to the Caribbean pay will have risen by up to 94% in two years.

This will mean a family of four travelling to the Caribbean in premium economy class will pay £600 in APD alone.

The delegation, which includes six Caribbean tourism ministers, will argue that it is wrong that those travelling to the Caribbean should pay more than those going as far as Hawaii.

The West Indies regularly welcomes large numbers of British visitors, with tourism representing as much as 70% of the gross domestic product on some islands.

From Monday until Wednesday, the delegation will be holding a series of meetings with travel industry and parliamentary bodies.

Hugh Riley, secretary general and chief executive of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, said, "We feel that the size of the delegation coming to the UK underscores the importance that the Caribbean attaches to this issue and the seriousness of our intent to minimise the possible damage that this second set of price increases will bring about.

"The rises come at time when a second British recession is being forecast and the Caribbean governments and people feel that it is paramount that we discuss the issue with every responsible body in order to find a mutually acceptable solution as soon as possible."

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