|MoT abandons lobby against APD|
Guardian Business Reporter
Published: Jun 22, 2012
Lobbying for a reduction on the Air Passenger Duty (APD) will no longer be a focus for The Bahamas, with the director general at the Ministry of Tourism saying “reality has set in” that a change is unlikely.
David Johnson said that nearly two years of lobbying the British government has yielded no positive results.
“The Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) approach on the matter was to take a regional approach to it and the CTO mounted a strong lobby to the British government,” Johnson said. “But the British government was not receptive to it, and from our perspective, there’s no new energy to lobby for it any more and it’s not on the top of our agenda.”
Johnson added that the UK market only represents four percent of the visitors who come to The Bahamas, and the infiltration into new markets, such as the Latin American, will offset any losses suffered from a tourist arrivals standpoint. He said other countries in the region may feel the pinch, but this country’s proximity to the U.S. means Americans remain by far the most significant market.
The APD was a topic of discussion at the Caribbean Tourism Summit held last week in Jamaica, with President and Chief Executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council Davis Scowsill saying efforts to have changes made are far from over.
“This APD is a disease that will spread to other countries unless we stop it now,” Scowsill said. “We have to find a different way to persuade the UK government on its view on the APD and this is going to require money, funds for the lobby organizations and one voice rather than independent voices that are shouting about the issue around the world.”
Caribbean countries are grouped in “Band C” of the APD, which means that the tax imposed per person totals $126.34. Therefore, a family of four will have to pay $505.36 in taxes if they wanted to travel to a Caribbean destination from the UK.
Johnson said that economic conditions in Europe aren’t a positive indicator that any changes would be on its way.
“The reality is that the European economy is challenged with its revenue base and ending APD would mean losing a source of revenue,” he said. “We cannot focus on what we can’t control, so our efforts will be placed in maximizing our other markets.”