"The UK Government's decision to increase the Air Passenger Duty (APD) for departures from UK airports from this coming November shows that it continues to underestimate the economic importance of travel and tourism," said Jean-Claude Baumgarten, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), adding WTTC's support to the opposition.
"We strongly endorse the government's decision to review the level of duty proposed for air travel to the Caribbean," Baumgarten added, "since this is particularly unfair. It is based on an illogical system of bands that means travelers will pay a lower tax to travel to many points of the USA that are much farther from London than any island in the Caribbean.”
WTTC maintains that the government's move to increase the APD is very short-sighted given the current recession, since travel and tourism—more than any other sector—has the potential to kick-start the economic recovery by stimulating continued spending on travel, thereby generating much needed employment.
The increased APD, which is being implemented in two stages from November 2009 and November 2010, and which primarily affects long-haul travelers, will mean a 112 percent rise in departure tax on a flight to Australia from the end of 2010.
"Clearly, this will have a very damaging effect on demand," said Baumgarten, "and at a time when demand is already very sluggish due to the recession and factors such as the H1N1 influenza virus.
"Moreover, the move which is intended to help reduce carbon emissions is also likely to backfire," Baumgarten added, "since passengers traveling to long-haul destinations will probably choose to use airports in continental Europe as their departure point for their long-haul flights. This would likely increase short-haul flights out of the UK, and so end up increasing, rather than decreasing, carbon emissions."