Egypt’s national tourist board has joined more than 50 other agencies to send what it describes as a “strongly worded” petition to the British government regarding its plans to increase air passenger duty (APD).
Chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne confirmed this week that the tax on flights from the UK will be increased by about ten per cent in April 2012.
The duty, which is the highest enforced by any country in the world, starts at £12 per person for short-haul economy flights and rises to as much as £170 for long-haul services.
Egypt’s tourist board warned the government that the “onerous” tax will have an adverse effect on the economies of countries the UK has close links with, while Britain itself will end up being a “net loser” if the planned increase takes place.
In an unprecedented move, the organisation was joined by like-minded agencies such as the Bahamas Tourist Office, which stressed that tourism provides 70 per cent of the country’s GDP, meaning any rise in the cost of holidays could have serious consequences for the economy.
Sabrina Cambiasos, director of the Dominican Republic Tourist Board, said APD has already had a “devastating effect” on the country’s holiday market and warned that higher taxes would cause “even more damage”.
Tracey Poggio, chair of the Association of National Tourist Offices and Representatives, said the British government must take a more holistic view of aviation duty.
“It is clear from our 53 tourist office members that the UK’s stringent APD is having a direct effect on many destinations,” she added.
“British passengers are being priced out of the skies and we are seeing knock-on effects on many destinations where thousands of peoples’ livelihoods depend on British tourism.”
As well as expressing tourist boards’ opposition to the government’s plans, the petition pointed out that APD has increased by 140 per cent since 2007 and expressed concern that there has been no independent study on the effects of the tax on international travel.
It also noted that there is no evidence to support claims that the duty has environmental benefits.
Abta, the travel industry association, released a survey earlier this month suggesting that 69 per cent of consumers already think they are paying too much tax to fly from the UK.
Two-thirds (65 per cent) of people said they now pay close attention to how much APD they are paying, compared to 58 per cent in 2010.