Overseas operators tell Osborne ‘APD pricing UK out of travel’

Global tour operators and business travel firms joined the campaign against rising Air Passenger Duty (APD) this morning by writing to Chancellor George Osborne expressing “the deepest concern” over UK tax policy ahead of Wednesday’s Budget.

More than 65 corporate travel departments, travel management companies and tour operators from countries including Japan, Dubai, Hong Kong, Greece, the Netherlands, Sweden, the US and Canada signed the letter telling Osborne that APD is pricing the UK out of meetings, trips and conventions.

The letter, also sent to Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore, said: “Our companies and clients are choosing France, Ireland and other destinations to avoid the highest aviation taxes in all of Europe.

“Budgets are tight and just a few hundred pounds difference in cost can cause the UK to lose significant business. We urge you to reduce this burden on the competitiveness of the UK for meetings, incentive trips, conventions and tourism.

“Collectively we facilitate hundreds of millions of pounds of annual travel activities, and the UK is already losing our business to European destinations that have no such duty or whose duty is a fraction of the UK’s.”

Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) president Brian Potter said: “This letter and the declarations of the signatories powerfully demonstrate that the UK is on the wrong track.”

Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the US-based Business Travel Coalition which helped organise the signatories, added: “Demand is clearly being impacted by this growing tax burden. If not reversed soon, the UK will acquire a hard-to-shake image of being too expensive a destination for many business-travel activities.” 

There have been reports Osborne intends to announce a further rise in APD in his Budget statement on Wednesday, although there has been no confirmation from the Treasury.

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