Caribbean Governments unite to protest against British tax plans

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Governments of the Caribbean have united in protest at the British government’s plans to charge a higher airport departure tax on visitors to the Caribbean, than the tax paid by British visitors to some other major destinations.

In November 2009 the airport departure tax on flights to the Caribbean is due to increase by between 25 per cent and 87 per cent, depending upon the class of travel. In November 2010 those increases will reach as high as 94 per cent. In letters to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, Caribbean governments united to call for a repeal of the British government’s discriminatory plans.

Minister Harold Lovell, chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), speaking on behalf of the many Caribbean governments said, “Our countries’ economies are hugely dependent on tourism. But the British government plans to place us in a more expensive tax category compared to the whole of the USA. This puts us at a considerable disadvantage. To suggest this is a green tax and that the environmental impact of flying to California or Hawaii is less then flying to the Caribbean is patently untrue. Our holidaymakers and the overseas friends and relatives of Caribbean nationals who live in Britain are being heavily penalised and our countries call on Britain to do the right thing and change this injustice.”

As the world’s most tourism-dependent region the Caribbean is determined to treat this matter with great urgency. The CTO is also supporting appeals made by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the British travel industry to change the tax plans. The Association of British Travel Agents and the industry trade paper Travel Trade Gazette have launched an online petition on the Downing Street website and more than 6,423 protests have already been registered.

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