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NZ tourism bodies attack British air tax

NZ tourism bodies attack British air tax

New Zealand's tourism industry bodies have again attacked Britain's tax on long-haul flights, saying the money is not being spent on environmental projects.

» Aviation - UK | Friday, June 17, 2011 • Air News Times
The British government has been consulting over proposed increases to its 2009 air passenger duty, which could see airline passengers stung even more to offset aircraft emissions. The consultation closed this week in Britain.

New Zealand tourism and travel leaders representing tourism businesses, airport and travel agents in a joint submission -- told the British government the duty was a barrier to long-haul travel and nothing more than a blunt taxation instrument to help reduce debt.

They say the duty is a deterrent to the about 223,000 British visitors to New Zealand, who spend $600 million here each year, and also to New Zealanders visiting Britain.

The duty was being disguised as a "green tax" but did not have any specific environmental initiatives in mind, the submission said. It would generate stg520 million ($NZ1.04 billion).

Passengers to long-haul destinations pay seven times more duty than to European destinations, Tourism Industry Association chief executive Tim Cossar said.

The tax accounted for about 10 percent of the average economy class return fare between London and New Zealand, he said.

Travel Agents Association of New Zealand chief executive Andrew Olsen said the duty saw more and more passengers flying to other European cities and spending less time in Britain.

"Others are avoiding the UK altogether to avoid paying the air passenger duty."

New Zealand Airports Association chief executive Kevin Ward said the duty should be scrapped.

"If the UK government proceeds with the air passenger duty, it should be in the form of a flat per person levy across the board, irrespective of destination or class of travel undertaken." 
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