Abta has hailed “the incredible success” of the industry’s Fair Tax on Flying coalition, but said “there is still a lot to do”.
The association spoke out after consumer research by TNS, published by Travel Weekly, found “no evidence of increased awareness of APD” despite the Fair Tax on Flying campaign this summer which saw more than 200,000 people email MPs.
Abta head of public affairs Luke Pollard said: “We know the average flier does not know how much tax they pay. That is one of the problems with APD – it’s a technical tax.
“We started from a low base of consumer awareness and one of the key things we wanted to do [with the campaign] was raise awareness among MPs.”
Pollard acknowledged the TNS findings – the research firm concluded there had “been no significant change in behaviour and attitudes to APD” over the past year – but he said: “We are in a much stronger position than we were a year ago.”
He told Travel Weekly: “The idea [for the campaign] came from a lunch with MPs who were saying ‘APD is not a post-bag issue’. No MP can say that now. They are all aware – and that is a success.”
The campaign has demanded the Treasury commission a full review of APD’s impact.
Pollard said: “MPs and ministers want to hear a clear message and that has been new from the industry. The fact we’ve held together – there are 47 organisations in A Fair Tax on Flying – and are near to a second anniversary is incredible.
“The challenge is to keep it up. We have to strike a careful balance between highlighting the effect of APD and not putting people off flying.”
Pollard insisted: “Government policies aren’t helping the economic recovery. We think APD is damaging outbound tourism and making inbound less competitive and until there is a full review no one can prove us wrong.”
Looking ahead to George Osborne’s Autumn Statement on December 5, he said: “The pressure is on the Chancellor to respond.
“We want him to recognise APD is having an impact and look at a review. We’re not necessarily expecting he will adopt our proposals, but we want to see him reflect the concern.
“This is not a technical concern of a small number of organisations. It is a wide concern shared by consumers, MPs and business groups. What we can’t have is silence.”
Pollard said: “The debate has moved on from something only the travel industry talked about. [But] there is still a lot to do in terms of raising awareness.
“The campaign is long term. We have had incredible support and there is real enthusiasm to continue. We need to carry on.”
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