A leading industry figure has hit out at “Britain’s hypocrisy”, dismissed the UK Treasury for being “intellectually feeble” and insisted the industry has to “stop being kicked around”.
Pacific-Asia Travel Association (Pata) chief executive Martin Craigs lashed out over Air Passenger Duty (APD) yesterday arguing: “Government leaders think there is no political downside to taxing travel.”
Craigs told Travel Weekly: “Some people say APD is becoming boring, but I’m not about to stop talking about it.
“I’m more convinced than ever that the industry has to speak with a louder voice to stop being kicked around.”
Speaking at World Travel Market in London, Craigs said: “I question Britain’s hypocrisy in lecturing the rest of the world on free trade.”
But he added: “I’m sympathetic to the industry here. The UK government’s arguments on APD need to be challenged overseas. We’re going to make it a political issue.”
Craigs said: “I will be meeting the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) in New York next week and will propose making an alliance on this. We have to stop being seen as a soft touch.”
He added: “It will be an informal alliance – not more bureaucracy. But let’s make our advocacy more aligned.”
Thailand became the latest country to propose a tax on arrivals last month and Craigs argued: “The UK is setting a bad example. Thailand said they are doing it because other governments take a lot of money off tourism.”
He suggested: “The Treasury is intellectually feeble. It can’t work out how to tax a 21st Century business like Amazon so it taxes a 20th Century industry like travel. APD is a lazy tax – it’s the easiest tax to collect.
“The Treasury argues travel demand is still strong, but the issue is longer term. APD is creating a disadvantage [for Britain]. You don’t see the full damage it is doing.”
Craigs asked: “Why is the UK handicapping itself on APD and visas when [Chancellor] George Osborne and [London Mayor] Boris Johnson were in Beijing on a charm offensive in October? They recognise the need to do something.”
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