Virgin Holidays “Cautiously Optimistic” on Caribbean in 2013

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Above: Antigua (CJ Photo)

By Alexander Britell

PARADISE ISLAND — Virgin Holidays is cautiously optimistic for the Caribbean market in 2013, according to John Taker, the company’s purchasing director.

Virgin saw 2 percent growth in the Caribbean in 2012.

For 2013, however, the company is currently up 20 percent overall above 2012 after launching its January sales push, including a 17 percent improvement for the Caribbean.

“It’s still a very challenging environment out here,” he said at a press conference during the CHTA Caribbean Travel Marketplace conference at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. “It sounds good, but we are cautiously optimistic.”

Taker also pointed to the impact of he British Air Passenger Duty, a banded tax on flights originating in the United Kingdom which has led to some controversy among Caribbean governments, which allege that it unfairly discriminates against flights to the region.

“There’s no hiding from the fact that the Caribbean is having to work harder for every booking,” Taker said. “The challenges of APD, the competition from mid-haul destinations, the general economic outlook — these are all factors the region has to overcome, and which aren’t going away anytime soon.”

The APD goes up another 8 pounds this year, and for a family of four, he said, that represents another 324 pounds in APD alone.

Taker said it was hard to quantify just what kind of effect the APD was having on travel to the Caribbean, but “for sure it’s going to make an impact,” he said.

Despite that, the Caribbean remained one of Virgin’s most popular choices for its sales in 2012 and 2013.

Virgin also said it had seen growth in Mexico, a “very popular destination.”

“But we’re doing pretty well all over the Caribbean,” he said.

 

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