Prime Minister Bruce Golding says the Caribbean region faces many of the same challenges requiring united action, one of which has to do with the decision of the United Kingdom to impose the Aviation Passenger Duty (APD) tax. He said the region was united in its position that this tax is manifestly unjust to the countries of the Caribbean region.
Mr. Golding was speaking at the opening ceremony of the two-day Caribbean Marketplace and awards presentation at the new convention Centre in Montego Bay this evening (Jan 16). Varying APD rates are dictated by the classification of worldwide destinations by the UK government – with passengers taking trips to the Caribbean being particularly badly hit.
Mr. Golding said several leaders from the region have impressed upon the British government that the tax is not fair and that it needs to be reviewed. He noted that representation has been made, the late Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson, Jamaica’s own Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation and himself to the British Government about the negative impact of this new tax on travel to the region.
Mr. Golding said that in handing over the chairmanship of Caricom to Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, he provided a full brief on all the activities of Caricom including a detailed update on the efforts that have been made to adjust this increase and he is confident that Caricom will continue to make representation to the British government.
‘Going to London and pleading are not the only options we have’, Mr. Golding noted. He said he had consulted widely and there are other options that the Caribbean may have to consider in tackling something that ‘is not just unfair and unjust but is in conflict with established global rules of tourism’.
He noted that while he could not speak for Caribbean countries on the matter and while it would be premature to speak on the position that the Government of Jamaica will take, there is no option that is off the table. ‘We are going to secure justice in this matter one way or the other’ Mr. Golding added.
The Prime Minister said Jamaica was delighted to be hosting Caribbean Marketplace again and pleased to be welcoming so many participants to the Convention centre which is not yet completed. He paid tribute to the workers and the various agencies and individuals who worked hard to get the centre ready to host this first event to be staged at the centre that will, take Jamaica into a new dimension of tourism business.