26 Aug

The Notting Hill Carnival – Celebrating UK and Caribbean Ties

This Bank Holiday weekend Notting Hill, Europe’s biggest and best carnival takes place in London: it continues to be a celebration of Caribbean culture and the UK’s close ties with the islands. ABTA is warning that these ties are being severely tested by the UK’s aviation tax policies. Over the last five years tax levels have risen by a staggering 375% which have contributed to a 16% drop in UK visitors to the Caribbean and a 36% drop in Caribbean visitors to the UK.

Air Passenger Duty, the UK’s aviation tax, is the highest in the world and currently raises £2.2bn per annum. In 2006 the Government charged £20 per passenger in economy and £40 in premium classes for flights to the Caribbean. Today these amounts have risen to £75 and £150 with a further 10% rise scheduled for April 2012. The Government has also threatened to increase the overall aviation tax burden even further to £3.6bn by 2015-16.

Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive: “The UK’s high levels of aviation tax cause substantial damage not just to the UK’s economy but to Caribbean countries with whom we have very close ties. Air Passenger Duty is a tax on growth and a tax on jobs in the UK and it is also causing very real hardship in the Caribbean. The Government is rethinking the structure of Air Passenger Duty and this review must not let the Caribbean down.”

“The double inflation increase in tax next year could add as much as 10% on tax levels which will hurt tourism in Britain and the Caribbean and I would encourage people whilst celebrating the Notting Hill Carnival to remember that taxes are hurting the Caribbean. As part of the Fair Tax on Flying campaign ABTA has called for the Government to look again at the planned tax increases and the way flights to the Caribbean are charged at a higher rate than flights to destinations further away like Hawaii.”

“I would encourage people celebrating the Notting Hill Carnival to take a moment to back the Fair Tax on Flying campaign by liking the Fair Tax on Flying’s Facebook page and writing to their MP.”

ABTA is calling on the Government to radically rethink its policy on aviation tax, starting with abandoning the 10% rise planned for next April. ABTA is part of the Fair Tax on Flying coalition made up of over 30 leading travel organisations, all calling for a sensible and balanced approach to aviation taxation. Air Passenger Duty causes substantial damage both to the UK economy and also the many destinations which are heavily reliant on tourism. The Caribbean is a dramatic example with tourism providing 80% of jobs in Antigua, 50% in Barbados and 25% in Jamaica. In addition the sky high levels of tax make visiting friends and family much harder, particularly for those on a tight budget.

Within Europe, Denmark, Holland, Malta and Norway have totally axed their aviation taxes after assessing the economic damage it caused their wider economy. Ireland and France levy taxes but at very low levels. Germany, which introduced a tax last year, is already seeing customers voting with their feet and flying from Holland.