Jamaican tourism minister Edmund Bartlett has welcomed the UK government’s decision to reduce Air Passenger Duty (APD) on long-haul flights from Northern Ireland describing the decision as “heartening” and “a very positive sign”.

He said: “This is the clearest indication yet that the UK government is giving some thought to the concerns expressed by stakeholders, including representatives from the Caribbean, about the negative impact this onerous tax continues to have on regions like ours and the need for a change.”

Bartlett added: “The reduction is clearly in reaction to evidence that travellers are being impacted by the cost of APD and are willing to travel longer distances to reduce the duty they have to pay.”

Chancellor George Osborne announced last month that the long-haul rate of APD from Northern Ireland would be abolished from November 1. However, the reduction applies to a single service between Belfast and New York on which the economy APD rate will be £12 from November instead of £60.

Bartlett said lobbying of the UK government would continue “in light of a very positive sign that the government is taking concerns about APD seriously”. He added: “The current tax burden on British travellers to the Caribbean continues to have a deleterious effect on the region’s tourism earnings.

“The Caribbean would prefer to see the introduction of a multilateral measure that treats all airlines and countries equally, that could be linked to development and to the risks the region faces from climate change.”