Britain’s APD response ‘a slap in the face’ for Caribbean

first_img 23 Views   no discussions Sharing is caring! NewsRegional Britain’s APD response ‘a slap in the face’ for Caribbean by: – December 7, 2011 Share St Kitts and Nevis Minister of Tourism and International Transportation Ricky Skerritt making a statement in the St Kitts and Nevis National assembly on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Erasmus Williams)BASSETERRE, St Kitts — The British government’s announcement on Tuesday that it will continue to discriminate against the Caribbean in relation to the banding aspect of the Air Passenger Duty (APD) system, has been described as “a slap in the face for all Caribbean people.”In a 26-page document published on Tuesday, the British government said that APD rates to Caribbean destinations will continue to be considerably higher than those to some competitor destinations. Furthermore, the fact that premium economy passengers will continue to be charged the same APD as first class passengers is a blow for those customers wanting to upgradeOver a period of three years, the Caribbean and its community in the UK have consistently sought to raise the issue of APD at all levels of the British government and with the UK parliament. St Kitts and Nevis Minister of Tourism Ricky Skerritt, chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) said: “Today’s announcement on the APD is a slap in the face for all Caribbean people. It dismisses all of the research and information CTO has provided to the British government over the past three years, and it contradicts the message sent by the UK Chancellor, George Osborne MP, in March 2011 when he cited the discrepancy between the USA and Caribbean APD rates as one of the reasons for holding a consultation on reform of UK APD. The Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region of the world and the British government’s decision totally ignores the negative effect that APD is having on our economies and the Caribbean’s business partners in the UK travel industry.”“It is a slap in the face of Caribbean people because at no point in recent months has the Caribbean being led to believe that its concerns would not be addressed. As recently as the second week in November I sat face to face with a senior Minister in the United Kingdom Treasury who reassured me that the British government was sensitive to our concerns and would be announcing shortly a decision that would have addressed the issue of parity,” Skerritt continued.“I say it is a slap in the face because the UK government’s announcement in effect says it will continue to discriminate against the Caribbean. It says that APD rates to the Caribbean will be continue to be considerably higher than some competitor destinations,” he said.“It is slap in the face because the Caribbean is the most tourism dependent region in the world and the British government decision totally ignores the negative effect that it is having on our economy,” Skerritt added.Caribbean prime ministers, ministers of tourism, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Caribbean Diaspora in the UK, including the High Commissioners, have consistently raised the issue of Air Passenger Duty with the UK government and UK Parliament and the region’s concern about the negative effect that APD is having on the tourism dependent economies of the Caribbean and on the Caribbean community living in the United Kingdom.The region made a formal response to the Air Passenger Duty consultation in June. In summary this made clear that: • The Caribbean requires parity in banding with the US.• A move to a two band system would address the Caribbean’s requirement if this resulted in equal treatment of all long haul destinations. • No other option set out in the consultation addresses the concerns of the Caribbean.• APD has become a political issue with the Caribbean Diaspora in the UK. Skerrit said it is a matter that Caribbean governments would have to raise in the near future with the United Kingdom and hoped the issue would again be raised at the upcoming United Kingdom-Caribbean Forum in mid-January 2012 in Grenada.He said it is a time for the Caribbean to speak out and let the British Government know that we are not happy.“It is a time for Caribbean leaders at all levels to understand that this is about a serious economic matter and this matter will not go away just by wishing it away,” said Skerritt.By Caribbean News Now contributorcenter_img Share Share Tweetlast_img read more