Justine Greening, the Treasury Minister speaking at the ABTA Travel Matters conference earlier today, confirmed the Government's commitment to removing barriers to growth and acknowledged the importance of travel and tourism to both the UK economy and destinations worldwide.
However, when questioned about the Government's stated intention to raise Air Passenger Duty by twice the rate of inflation in 2012, she said that the Government was sensitive to the impact of the level of tax on business but that hard decisions had to made be made to reduce the deficit. When asked about offsetting the EU Emission Trading Scheme against APD, she confirmed that the two issues would be treated separately.
Industry speakers united to praise the work of the ABTA-led Fair Tax on Flying campaign which had been instrumental in the Government's decision to postpone the increase in APD, scheduled for the March budget. It was agreed that the industry must continue to work together to call on government to reduce both the overall level of taxation and the structure, to ensure a fairer system.
Minister Greening also distanced herself from widely reported comments made by Cabinet minister Oliver Letwin, stating that she knew how important holidays were for families.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: "Minister Greening's commitment to growing the travel industry is welcome but we need to see some concrete action to go with it. We are already the most highly taxed aviation industry in the world and the government needs to listen to the industry's concerns and offset ETS against APD next year as well as rethinking their proposed in-line-with-inflation increases. The Fair Tax on Flying campaign will be redoubling its efforts to increase public awareness on the level of aviation tax and to persuade the Government that heavily taxing our industry is the worst possible barrier to growth."