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Fewer British tourists may be able to afford to travel abroad

British Air Tax Increase Alarms Travel Industry

Friday, April 24, 2009
Thailand Tourism May Suffer

A PASSENGER tax increase by the British Government is likely to curtail the number of British tourists travelling to Thailand and Phuket.

Departure taxes on long-haul flights are to rise by as much as 112 percent, a measure contained in the country's 2009 Budget.

Travel firms in Britain have condemned the doubling of air fare duty, which is being projected as a move to counter global warming.

The Times Online quotes Dermot Blastland, managing director of Thomson Holidays, Britain's largest tour operator, as saying: ''We find it outrageous that despite clear briefings explaining why this tax is unfair and unjust, the Government continues to carry on regardless.''

Britain's airport departure tax will now fall into four bands, with airlines (and passengers) being charged according to how far they fly.

The increases, planned for November this year and November, 2010, will hit medium and long-haul travellers hardest, says Charles Starmer-Smith, writing in the Telegraph online.

''Travel operators and airlines have criticised the Government for applying tax rises during a time of financial downturn and falling passenger numbers,'' he writes.

The Government claims that the move will cut carbon emissions, but environmentalists have criticised the tax for encouraging passengers to believe that they are doing their bit for the environment, making them less likely to contribute to carbon offsetting schemes.

Thailand, along with Brazil, Caribbean, China, India, Japan, Kenya, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Seychelles, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, comes under Band C (4001-6000 miles) of the tax.

Now 40 pounds on an economy cabin, the tax rises to 50 pounds in November this year and 75 pounds in November next year.

Now 80 pounds, the tax on a ''premium'' cabin rises to 100 pounds then 150 pounds in the same timeframe.

Band D (Beyond 6000 miles) which includes Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, rises to 55 pounds for an economy cabin in November 2009 and 85 pounds in November 2010.

The Telegraph quotes Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways, as saying: '''APD was doubled two years ago, making air travel from the UK the most heavily taxed in the world.

''The Government's own figures show that British airlines already meet their environmental costs, so there can be no 'green' justification for these additional taxes.''

Concerns have been raised that regional passengers who have to fly via London will pay the tax twice if they are travelling with two different airlines.

Travellers to Britain will also have to meet the additional cost.

Britain is a prime source of tourists for Thailand, with 282,309 visiting Phuket in 2007, second only to Australians.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has yet to compile the figures for 2008.

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