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UK-based Caribbeans welcome lowered flight tax back home

GOOD NEWS: The Jamaican high commissioner to London, Aloun Assamba, said she is heartened by the changes

UK-BASED Jamaicans have welcomed news that adjustments are to be made to the controversial airline passenger duty (APD), which will be advantageous to travellers venturing to Caribbean destinations next year.

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced in his annual budget presentation to the House of Commons on Wednesday (March 19) that the region has been put into the same band for the duty as the United States of America.

This means that passengers travelling from Britain to Caribbean destinations will now pay the lower Band B price bracket fixed at £67 from April 1, 2015, which has long applied to those travelling to the United States.

LOBBYING FOR CHANGE

The Jamaican high commissioner to London, Aloun Assamba, said she is heartened by the changes. "Caribbean high commissioners and tourism ministers have been lobbying for this to be done for over four years. It was argued that this was discriminatory to the Caribbean, which is the most tourism-dependent region in the world," she noted. The change, she said, will also be good news for members of the diaspora.

Former British member of parliament of Jamaican descent, Dawn Butler, also expressed joy at the news. She said: "I welcome the news. Having lobbied hard only to have APD tripled over the last few years, this is a small step towards a solution to the unfairness."

However, former BBC presenter Evadney Campbell, said the impending changes do not go far enough for people wanting to visit the Caribbean.

"This will have very little impact on the cost of airfares. More needs to be done and the pressure needs to continue on the two main carriers. What about the luggage allowance? The government has done what it can do in relation to pressure on the Caribbean tourist industry, but that is a very small part of the overall cost," she added.

Founder of Facilitators for a Better Jamaica Sylbourne Sydial said the news was a timely gesture. His organisation had proposed a boycott of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

However, she noted that, in real terms, the saving is just £16 and that does not really represent the exorbitant fares that consumers have been forced to fork out. "

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