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13 Jun 2018

BY Sophie Griffiths

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What are the actual benefits of APD?

Twenty-four years since Air Passenger Duty was first introduced, there are few who can still believe this so-called green tax is about offsetting the environmental impact of air travel. It is, as Abta has consistently stressed, far more about revenue raising. And it remains an understandable bugbear of the travel sector.

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Can you name one environmental benefit of APD?

Airlines, airports, trade associations, unions and destinations have campaigned tirelessly against the tax under the banner of A Fair Tax on Flying. And there have been improvements - in 2012 the UK government announced the devolvement of APD in Northern Ireland and in 2015 it was devolved in Scotland.

 

Last year the banding system was also simplified, and the tax scrapped for children on economy flights.

 

The changes though have never gone far enough. And this week TTG reveals how three destinations are now taking matters into their own hands (p5).

 

In a demonstration of how travel – and economics – can bring competitors together, the Israeli and Jordanian tourist boards have joined forces alongside Egypt to demand a cut to APD in a bid to boost UK visitor numbers to the region.

 

This is because crucially, all three countries have airports which only just fall short of meeting APD’s 2,000-mile Band A criteria. Yes, the UK government has to draw a line somewhere, but in a region where tourism is central to economies, and at a time when it is helpful to ease the pressures of visitor numbers – and overtourism - on western Med destinations, perhaps it is time for the line to be redrawn.

 

The government is vague on what the actual environmental benefits of APD are – and indeed where the revenue from the tax actually goes. Overtourism meanwhile is a key environmental concern, which many, including both governments and the travel industry should be working to solve.

 

Making APD fairer for Egypt, Israel and Jordan could be the first step in the UK government shouldering some of this responsibility, proving it is finally genuine about its environmental tourism commitments.

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