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TOURISM - APD causes 51% decline in British interest to the Caribbean

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BRITISH travel consumers who would normally opt to travel to the Caribbean on a vacation, are showing less interest in travelling to the Region since the introduction of the controversial British air passenger duty (APD).

According to Cheapflights Media Ltd., an international media network which facilitates the online comparison of flight deals, statistics show that the APD has contributed to a 51.3 per cent decline in interest to the Caribbean.

 

Cheapflights which has been a consistent critic of the UK's regressive Air Passenger Duty (APD) -- now the highest such aviation travel tax in the world, said this assessment followed an analysis of “traffic search patterns” for the first six months of 2009, 2010 and 2011 for searches for Barbados, Jamaica and Mexico and other long haul destinations.

The company also analysed its North American traffic searching for London flights for the same periods to indicate how the APD may have affected inbound tourism.

H1

2010 over 2009

2011 over 2009

Australia

15.3%*

-4.7%

Barbados

-47.1%

-51.3%

India

5.1%*

-1.5%

Jamaica

-26.8%

-25.0%

Mauritius

-12.9%

-0.4%

Mexico

-21.9%

-17.5%

New Zealand

7.5%*

-2.0%

Inbound Searches for the UK

CFUSA to UK

4.9%

-9.4%

CFCA to UK

4.6%

-34.3%

* Host nations to major sporting events in H1 2010

In a release issued this week, Cheapflights said The British Government has just completed a consultation period in response to representations by Caribbean governments, the Caribbean Tourist Organisation and also by UK aviation and travel companies about the negative effects the high level of taxation is having.

Introduced in 1994 and raised in 2007 it remained at a sustainable level until November 2009; APD was then changed to a much higher four mileage-band based tax for economy seats and an even higher four-band tax for premium seat passengers including premium economy. It was raised even higher in November 2010, costing a family of four travelling economy to the Caribbean APD of £300.

Following the 2010 increase, APD had risen a massive 275% above pre-2007 rates for all cabin classes to the Caribbean. Apart from affecting tourism-dependent economies, such as the Caribbean in general, the mileage bands also created unfair anomalies; for example APD is more expensive when flying to Jamaica than to Hawaii.

John Barrington-Carver, Head of Cheapflights Corporate Communications, commented: "Clearly, with a respective 51.3% and 25% drop in traffic since the higher rate four band APD was brought in, Barbados and Jamaica have good reason to expect the UK Government to remove the current anomalies in APD.

"A significant concern for the UK economy is the evident drop in searches for the UK from North America and elsewhere over the period. With the strong Australian and Canadian dollars one could have expected an increase in searches for the UK. Instead we have a 5% drop from Australia and a very significant 34% drop seen in Canadian searches for London.

"Domestically, the UK's airport operators are claiming that, according to Civil Aviation Authority statistics, passenger numbers at Britain's smaller airports have fallen by up to 70% in the past four years.

"Cheapflights' analysis appears to bear out the reasons why five other European Governments have dropped APD as revenue raising exercises. Having tried the duty they discovered that such taxes cost the economy more than they raised in revenue.

"High jet fuel prices have clearly increased fares but have not prevented the 2010 post-recession global bounce in air passengers.

"It's therefore difficult to avoid the conclusion that APD is deterring UK consumers from seeking fares to the Caribbean and other long haul destinations. Importantly for the UK economy the opposite is also evident, especially from North America."