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Tourism Alliance urges government rethink on Air Passenger Duty

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The Tourism Alliance has called on the government to address inconsistencies in Air Passenger Duty (APD) policy across the UK, to avoid “distorting the tourism market.”

Last week’s publication of the Smith Settlement for Scotland – outlining which additional powers should be devolved to Scotland in the wake of the recent referendum – revealed that responsibility for setting APD will soon fall to the Scottish Parliament. Holyrood has previously stated that it will immediately halve this tax and look to abolish it in the future.

The UK government in Westminster has recently made concessions on APD, but the tourism industry is warning that the proposed Scottish cuts need to replicated across English and Welsh airports to avoid distorting the tourism market and rendering the recently announced £10m fund to attract overseas visitors to Northern England useless.

The Tourism Alliance cites the example of 2011 when a similar situation arose across the Irish Sea. When the Irish government reduced APD, residents from Northern Ireland crossed the border to get cheaper flights out of Dublin. This threatened the viability of many routes into Belfast and caused the UK government to lower APD for Northern Ireland to protect the Northern Ireland tourism economy from serious losses.

“It would be perverse for the government to allocate £10m to the new Northern Fund with the aim of bringing more international tourists to Northern England, when the devolution of APD to the Scottish Parliament makes Northern England’s airports uncompetitive and they have to close down international routes,” said Tourism Alliance chair Ufi Ibrahim.

“The tourism industry has been at the forefront of the UK’s economic recovery, having created a third of all new jobs over the last three years. The reason that the Scottish Parliament is lowering APD is because it recognises the benefits that the industry delivers. If we are to provide those benefits throughout the UK, APD must be the same throughout the UK.”

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The Tourism Alliance has called on the government to address inconsistencies in Air Passenger Duty (APD) policy across the UK, to avoid “distorting the tourism market.”
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Tourism Alliance chair Ufi Ibrahim warns the move could undermine efforts to boost regional tourism
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