… will have a major impact on tourism
By Gary Eleazar
Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo is of the opinion that departure tax for persons flying to the Caribbean from the United Kingdom that was recently raised given that this region was marked up in a different category is discriminatory.
This was a position recently articulated by Jagdeo whilst in Trinidad and Tobago for the 20th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that closed on Sunday last.
Jagdeo questioned the motives behind the UK’s re-branding of the Caribbean causing it to attract a greater taxation when there were countries with greater distances away from the UK but attracted a more moderate taxation.
Jagdeo also pointed out that the fact that the Caribbean is primarily a tourist destination with a lot of the traffic flowing from Europe it will have an adverse impact and threaten the tourism industry.
Recently, in voicing its condemnation of the tax, the Trinidad and Tobago’s Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI) said “this tax will require UK tourists, already dealing with the effects of an economic slowdown, to pay more to come to the Caribbean.
“The fact that a family of four will have to pay as much as £400 more to come to the region (this will increase to as much as £600 in 2010), makes the magnitude of the impact quite clear. They will simply go elsewhere. The drop in arrivals will have a ripple effect through the rest of the economy.”
According to Jagdeo, during a meeting with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown as it relates to the impact of the Global Financial Crisis on states such as in the Caribbean.
Jagdeo told reporters that tourism was one of the worse hit sectors in the region adding that UK is pursuing a system that was counter to the efforts of the Caribbean in its developmental pursuits.
The airport passenger departure tax, Jagdeo said, was one such item especially with its discriminatory impact on the Caribbean.
“As you are aware we are placed in category ‘C’ and although Hawaii and some other destinations,” whilst suggesting Vancouver which he said was twice the distance from Barbados but still attracted less taxation given that they are under the ‘B’ classification.
The difference, Jagdeo pointed out was substantially lower that the category ‘C.’
Jagdeo said that the region had requested a rebranding of the Caribbean.
Jagdeo said that Prime Minister Gordon Brown advised him that he was sympathetic but that Jagdeo should check with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the matter but according to Jagdeo if the issue were to continue, “then we will lose tourism flow.”
According to Jagdeo who is currently the Chairman of CARICOM 40 per cent of the tourists to Barbados are from the United Kingdom.
“On average, 20 per cent of our tourists come from the UK…so this will have a major impact on tourism.”
Word of the tax was first announced when the British government announced in its April 2009 budget that it intends to increase the airport passenger departure tax in November 2009 by between 25 per cent and 87 per cent, depending on the class of travel, with a further increase expected in November 2010.
The APD is currently considered a “green tax,” designed to account for aviations impact on the environment, which increases further a person’s travels from a UK airport.
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