'Travel industry far from overtaxed’ says former minister

'Travel industry far from overtaxed’ says former minister

The travel industry could be subject to more taxes, former secretary of state Chris Huhne has warned.

Huhne told the ITT conference in Ras al Khaimah that travel and aviation is a strong industry that is far from overtaxed compared to other sectors.

‎"Taxes are already high, but there is no VAT and no fuel duty. On VAT and fuel, the travel industry is far from overtaxed," he said.

Huhne, now a director of Zilkha Biomass Energy, warned travel companies not to bury their heads in the sand regarding travel’s impact on the environment.

He said: "Get real on climate‎ change. Accept the science, preserve the environment and the destinations you're travelling to.

“Back incentives for fuel economy and biofuels because tourism can afford it.

"The richer we get, the more we spend and a disproportionate amount of that goes on tourism."

Huhne pointed out that while consumer spending was currently growing at 2.8% a year, annual tourism growth was at 4.2% and he said: "What a great industry to be in."

But he insisted the industry has to face up to the fact that it has the "fastest-growing greenhouse gas emissions of any sector"‎.

"There are plenty of dead-end responses which are tempting, such as more efficient aircraft, but jets are worse than piston engines," he said.

He argued that the sector might have to accept lower growth due to extra taxation‎.

"It might mean 60% growth, not 150%,” he said. “It's a shift the industry should live with.”

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