Skerritt blasts British Govt’s high APD ratesWritten by Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS: Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Tourism Minister and Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Richard ‘Ricky’ Skerritt blasted the British government’s decision to continue high Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates to the Caribbean.
Skerritt called to make “pertinent points to let the British government know that the Caribbean is not happy.”
In highlighting the news on the APD rates, the Tourism Minister disclosed that from the British government announcement that day, Air Passenger Duty rates to the Caribbean will continue to be considerably higher than those to some competing destinations.
“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. It contradicts the message sent by the UK Chancellor, George Osborne MP, in March of 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,” Skerritt pointed out.
The CTO chairman added, “The Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region of the world, the British Government’s decision totally ignores the negative effect that APD is having on our economies, and Caribbean’s business partners in the UK travel industry.”
He said it is “a slap in face because data shows that Diaspora travel has significantly reduced since the 2009 increase in the APD.”
He shared a statement issued by the CTO in relation to the matter, calling it “a serious blow to all travelers to the Caribbean.”
Skerrit said the CTO was “deeply disappointed and surprised by the UK government’s announcement today that it will continue to discriminate against the Caribbean in relation to the (handling) aspect of the APD system.”
According to him, over the a period of three years, the Caribbean and its community in the UK have consistently sought to raise the issue of the APD at all levels of the British government.
The CTO Chairman described the decision as a failure by the British government to deliver on a common sense policy that recognizes that the Caribbean is the most tourism dependent region in the world.
“It is a failure by the British Government to understand the growth and economic benefits that aviation can deliver to the Caribbean and to the UK,” he stated.
He went on to say, “It is a failure by the British government to deliver a fair airfare policy that treats all countries equally. It is a failure by the British government to address in its policy, the significant negative effects that the APA system has had and will continue to have on our Caribbean community and the UK; many of whom are British citizens and UK voters.”
“I want to make it clear that the decision today is being looked at by the CTO as a failure by the British government to understand the consequences of their actions,” Skerritt remarked.
He made an appeal to regional leaders to continue to press for an adjustment to the Caribbean’s APD rates for the upcoming UK and Caribbean Forum meeting in mid January.