Leaders of the world’s travel industry have condemned the UK’s planned rise in Air Passenger Duty (APD) and called for its repeal.


The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and a senior figure at the International Monetary Fund have rounded on the government over the tax, which will increase substantially on flights to the furthest destinations from November.


UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai told the WTTC summit in Brazil: “I cannot understand why the UK government is imposing such a tax.”


IMF executive director Paulo Nogueira Batista described the APD rise as one of a series of “desperate” measures by governments to tackle the economic crisis, taken “without considering the effects elsewhere”. It would lead to tax reductions in emerging tourist economies to prevent a plunge in visitors, he said.


“Increasing taxes [such as APD] just leads destination governments to reduce their taxes to try to compensate. So it leads to a transfer of resources [from destinations],” Nogueira Batista said at the summit.


The APD on an economy flight to the Caribbean or Thailand will rise from £40 to £50 in November and to Singapore and beyond, it will be £55. Passengers in premium economy seats will pay double and APD will rise again the following year to £75 on economy fares to the Caribbean and £85 to further destinations.