Caribbean Diplomats in London Gear Up to Lobby Against British APD

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - June 17, 2013

Above: Parliament in London

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The Caribbean’s High Commissioners in the United Kingdom are readying a push to lobby against the British Air Passenger Duty, armed with about $63,000 in funding for a public awareness campaign.

The funds were sourced from a UK-based Jamaican Building Society, according to Barbados Tourism Minister Richard Sealy, who recently visited the UK. The APD Steering Group is also on board with the initiative, Barbados’ government said.

Among those gearing up for the lobbying are High Commissioners from Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, Antigua, Grenada and St Lucia.

Thus far, diplomatic efforts to oppose the tax, which is calculated based on distance on all flights originating in the United Kingdom, have been unsuccessful. The Caribbean has charged that the tax disproportionately taxes flights to the region.

“We don’t expect the APD to go away, but at the same time, we can’t just go silent on the issue,” Sealy said. “We have to enlist some more partners, because this thing is much larger than a tourism issue.”

He said the British could not “just ignore cries” from the country’s local West Indian and immigrant populations about the impact of the tax.

“It is important from a tourism point of view, especially for Barbados, because [the UK] is our major source market,” he said. “But it is also important for those many Barbadians and others who are living in that society who are affected [and] want to come home to visit a sick relative or attend a funeral.”

“I am not saying the ticket should be tax free,” he said. “But it should be within reach.”

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