Latest consumer research also shows voters are savvy about damage of APD
As the General Election approaches and party conferences get into full swing, new research by ABTA reveals strong sentiment in support of reforms that the Association says will boost jobs and growth. *
While the Liberal Democrats seemingly move towards opposing new runways in their manifesto, ABTA can report that consumers mood on the topic is shifting in favour of additional capacity. Only 16% of people disagreed with the assertion that ‘more airport capacity is needed’ and importantly, the numbers who agree are on the up.
Four in ten (41%) people agreed that ‘more capacity is needed’- an increase from just over a third (36%) who were surveyed in 2013. Consumers also appear aware of the risk to the economy if creating more capacity is delayed – a third of people surveyed this year (35%) agreed that ‘the UK economy will suffer if capacity is not increased’ – with just 18% saying they disagreed.
Significantly, 42% of people said they believe that it is Government who should support measures to build more capacity, indicating that the winning party or parties will find themselves under increasing public as well as industry pressure to take action in the next parliament.
Focusing on flight taxes, over a third (36%) of people taking part in ABTA’s 2014 consumer survey said that high flight taxes put them off flying (only 23% disagreed with this statement) – and 4 in 10 (39%) said they thought that aviation taxation puts the UK economy at a disadvantage. Worryingly, 1 in 4 people (25%) said that they would fly from an airport outside the UK to avoid Air Passenger Duty (APD) - highlighting the potential loss of business from UK consumers to airports such as Amsterdam Schiphol where there is no APD, or Frankfurt where the tax is much lower.
ABTA’s ‘Manifesto for Jobs and Growth in Tourism’ calls for all parties to: act urgently to increase airport capacity; further reform and reduce APD; invest in infrastructure across all transport modes; embed a cohesive approach to tourism policy which recognises the value of all tourism (inbound, outbound and domestic) and ensure completion of consumer protection reforms. The Association will be engaging with party members and senior leaders from all three parties on these priorities at the party conferences which begin with Labour Party conference this weekend.
ABTA’s Head of Public Affairs, Stephen D’Alfonso said: “Reducing APD and increasing airport capacity are two key policies that would enhance UK competitiveness, which in turn will deliver jobs and economic growth. As the three main parties draft their respective manifestos in search of precisely this – jobs and growth – ABTA will be reminding politicians that not only will these long-standing industry calls deliver, but that these changes broadly carry the support of millions of voters who will make their way to the polls in a little under eight months’ time.”
*Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in tourism and leisure market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated response from a nationally representative sample of 2001 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to July 2014. Fieldwork was conducted in July 2014.