The introduction of increased levels of APD (Air Passenger Duty) charges on Sunday, November 1, highlights the lack of transparency in the Government’s environmental policy and misleadingly targets travellers under the guise of an eco-tax according to the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO).The association says this coming Sunday will be a black day for travellers as costs are expected to rise significantly, especially on long haul travel.
Treasury Minister Lord Myners has admitted that APD is “primarily” designed to raise money while Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has admitted revenue raised by APD is not “ring-fenced” for environmental schemes.
Just to further rub salt into the wound, APD is calculated against the distance between London and the capital city of the country concerned and not each individual city.
This brings about the 'farcical' situation where a flight from London to Cairo (2,100 miles) qualifies for Band B (2001-4000 miles), the same as a flight from London to Los Angeles (5,400 miles), despite the fact that it is less than half the distance.
Derek Moore, AITO Chairman (Founder & Associate Director of Explore), said: “Using the environment as a pretence for raising revenue for the Treasury and targeting travellers is a very short-sighted policy. Many AITO travellers are eco-conscious and happy to play their part, through carbon offsetting and contributions to related projects, but they take issue at having to hand over additional funds in the form of a stealth tax when even Government Ministers admit they cannot guarantee that the money raised will go towards environmental schemes. At least when the Conservative Government introduced APD in the early 1990s, it clearly admitted that it was a tax-collecting proposal.”
AITO 'very much advocates' environmental awareness and requires all 140 members to engage in Responsible Tourism.
AITO also operates a ratings scheme – very useful for interested customers - with members awarded between one and five stars based on their environmental performance. its members operate a large number of environmental projects around the world where they make a telling contribution to local communities.
For more information on AITO visit: www.aito.com.