St. Kitts – Nevis Tourism Minister – Richard Skerritt
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
September 02, 2010 (CUOPM)
St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Tourism and International transport, Sen. the Hon. Richard “Ricky” Skerritt is included in a delegation of Caribbean tourism ministers which will next week put pressure on the new British coalition government over plans to reform the Air Passenger Duty.
Minister Skerritt will be among tourism ministers from six islands who will meet coalition government ministers as well as airline bosses to push for a better deal for the region in a reformed tax.
It will be the first meeting between Caribbean ministers and the government since it was elected, and they will be hoping for a more sympathetic ear than that offered by the previous British Labour Party administration.
Despite repeated appeals from individual ministers and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the last government failed to alter the system of distance bands that discriminates against the region by taxing it at a higher rate than the US.
Next week’s delegation will include Hon. John Maginley from Antigua and Barbuda, Hon. Edmund Bartlett from Jamaica, Hon. Richard Sealy from Barbados, Hon. Glynis Roberts from Grenada, Hon. Richard Skerritt from St Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Allen Chastanet from St. Lucia, and Hugh Riley, the Secretary General of the CTO.
A CTO spokeswoman said the meeting aimed to ensure that the islands’ voice was heard in the debate over whether reform should continue a per-passenger tax or move to a per-plane duty.
The organisation has already indicated it could challenge increases to APD as an illegal restraint on trade, as they would hit the islands’ key export of tourism.
The delegation comes after Abta used the Notting Hill Carnival to highlight the impact of APD rises due in November on the Caribbean.
The association is urging people to write to their MPs to demand an end to plans to increase the tax because it will make the Caribbean the preserve of the better off.
British Airways Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Willie Walsh last week warned politicians that they must not risk harming economies that depend on tourism through their tax policies.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Barbados, where he will speak on the future of intercontinental travel at a CTO conference, Walsh said tax policies should encourage recovery in tourism-dependent economies.