Caroline Cook, deputy editor of our sister publication, Routes News, reports from the World Travel Market in London.
A debate on APD was held at WTM to discuss whether the tax was a revenue raiser or a damaging duty.
Victoria Bacon, head of communications at ABTA, explained how the travel trade body had been campaigning for the UK government to review the duty.
She explained that 200,000 people had signed an appeal last year, adding: “The simple message is, ‘these levels are damaging’.”
However, Aoife O’Leary, policy officer at Transport & Environment, argued that as the aviation industry was exempt from VAT and fuel tax, the APD is justified.
“We need to ensure that there is a level playing field across all modes of transportation, including in taxation,” she said.
New Zealand’s deputy high commissioner to the UK, Rob Taylor, disagreed, saying: “APD increased from £14 to £94 in the last four years. This is disproportionate and anything but fair.”
The UNWTO’s regional director for the Americas, Carlos Vogeler, backed this viewpoint, stating: “Tourism is not well understood, particularly by governments.”
With 1.8 billion tourists forecast by 2030, Vogeler feels that the issue of APD needs to be addressed quickly.
He said: “There is a tendency to not apply intelligent and fair taxation. This has a big impact on tourism so it’s an important element to look at.”
Consultant economist at PwC, Jonathan Gillham, discussed the company’s recent report into APD.
He said that if the tax were abolished, then aviation would pay for itself.
Despite costing the government up to £3 billion in the first year, Gillham argued that the abolition of APD would stimulate economic growth.
He said: “Aviation is critical for growth. Tourism is not as important. We’ve been conservative and cautious in our report but we have continuously found the same result.”
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