Caribbean Tourism Organization Launching Airline Task Force

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - October 12, 2012

Above: a British Airways flight (Photo: BA)

By Alexander Britell

ST KITTS — The Caribbean Tourism Organization will be launching a task force on the question of airlift in the region, new Chairman Beverly Nicholson-Doty announced Friday.

The task force, whose membership will be revealed within the next few weeks, will be officially created in the next 30 days.

“It is clear that airlift is something that is regionally important,” she said. “There are critical issues we need to deal with as an organization, and that’s why I’m implementing the task force.”

One of the major issues the task force will examine is the British Air Passenger Duty, a tax on air travel originating from a British airport.

The tax has come under fire in the Caribbean for what some charge is a discriminatory method of taxing flights to different destinations.

Outgoing CTO Chairman and St Kitts and Nevis Tourism and Transport Minister Richard Skerritt said the APD was “taxation gone crazy.”

“There is a threshold point beyond which it becomes ridiculous, and I don’t know what that threshold point is,” he said. “The most important point about APD, for me, in terms of scale, is what it’s used for – the British government is taking nearly $3 billion from travelers’ pockets to spend on domestic programmes that have nothing to do with airlift and the aviation industry.”

Skerrittt said it was hoped that the tax would at least be used as money “to invest in improving services and security and enhancing the travel industry. That’s really what the CTO philosophy has been on that.”

Nicholson-Doty, who assumed the role on Wednesday evening, said airlift was one of several priorities for her term, including developing a unified regional marketing programme and maintaining the financial stability of the CTO.

She also said the CTO would look to enhance its relationship with the cruise industry, with an objective of building “year-round traffic.”

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