13 November 2009
Air Passenger Duty a continuing concern for
Diaspora and the Caribbean
Britain's controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) and its banding
structure, which the Caribbean and its UK Diaspora regard as
discriminatory, was a key talking point during the week of World
Travel Market, the annual tourism trade show that took place in
London from 9-12 November.
Caribbean Ministers and industry representatives attending the event
took the opportunity of their stay to meet with British Ministers and
Parliamentarians to express their deep concern about the negative
impact of a banding structure that places more tax on air tickets
from then UK to the Caribbean than the whole of the US The
measure is particularly concerning to the many British citizens of Caribbean origin who
frequently visit friends and relatives in the region.
On 9 November, Tourism Ministers from Antigua,
Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, and St Lucia, the
Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism
Organisation and the President and Director General of
the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association met with
Sarah McCarthy Fry MP, the UK Treasury Minister
responsible for APD. The group also met with an all-
party group of MPs on 11 November at the House of
Commons to develop further cross party support for the
Caribbean's concerns about the impact of APD and how they might be addressed.
At the meeting on 9 November, which was chaired by Dawn Butler MP for Brent South, a
constituency with significant numbers of voters from the Caribbean Diaspora, Caribbean
Ministers told the Treasury Minister that there was growing anger in the UK and the Caribbean
The Caribbean delegation made clear that the UK Government's position on banding which
placed the Caribbean in a higher tax band than destinations on the US West Coast or Hawaii
was discriminatory, would damage tourism and would undercut key UK government and
European initiatives in the region on development.
In exchanges the UK Minister indicated that Treasury officials are exploring the legal and
revenue issues associated with possibility of re-banding APD for the Caribbean.
At a separate meeting convened by Sarah Teather MP on November 11, an all party group
from both Houses of Parliament agreed to adopt a strategy to encourage Government to
make a positive decision on rebanding.
Just before WTM the head of Virgin Atlantic called on David Cameron and the Conservative
increases in Air Passenger Duty, if they are elected to power in 2010.
The Caribbean Council
16-20 November, 2009
Trade Mission to Jamaica
2-7 November, 2009
Havana International Fair, Cuba
23-26 November, 2009
Commonwealth Business Forum,
Port of Spain, Trinidad
26-27 November, 2009
Cuba's Energy Revolution Seminar,
30 November 2 December, 2009
Caribbean and Central American
Action Annual Conference, Miami
4-6 May, 2010
Caribbean Hotel and Tourism
Investment Conference, Puerto Rico
This newsletter is sponsored by:
In 2009, Virgin Atlantic celebrates
25 years of flying. In this time it has
become the largest scheduled airline
between Europe and the Caribbean,
carrying 825,000 passengers on its
ten Caribbean routes last year.
Virgin Atlantic flies to Antigua,
Barbados, Grenada, Havana,
Kingston, Montego Bay, St Lucia
and Tobago from London Gatwick
and to Barbados and St Lucia from
For more details and to make
bookings, please visit www.virgin-
Party to commit to scrapping further
Steve Ridgway, Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic, commented: "These proposed increases will not only hurt the aviation industry but
also harm the British economy and those of many developing countries, like the Caribbean, which heavily rely on the tourism trade. It
will also tax many hard working British holidaymakers out of flying altogether". The airline also highlighted the fact that if APD is not
withdrawn before aviation becomes part of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in 2012, travellers may be taxed twice-over
The Caribbean Tourism Organisation indicated that a survey of UK holidaymakers in the region earlier this year had revealed that once
the cost of flights rises above a specific level, their propensity to book is significantly reduced. CTO continue to support the Diaspora
in the UK in their efforts to lobby the British Government. Further information can be found at
Baroness Kinnock, the Minister in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office with responsibility for the Caribbean, recognized the
Diaspora's concern over APD during a speech on 9 November. Speaking at a reception held for members of the Caribbean Diaspora,
the Minister reiterated that the Government was aware of the challenge faced by the Caribbean and that government was exploring re-
banding and the issues surrounding it.
(Pictured: Top left, Dawn Butler MP and Edmund Bartlett MP; Middle right, Sarah Teather MP with parliamentary delegation)
Cuba Initiative Holds High Level Energy Seminar in Havana
At the end of November, former UK Energy Minister, Brian Wilson (pictured), will lead a delegation to Cuba of
around 20 people representing UK companies in the renewable energy and oil and gas sectors. In Havana, they
will participate in a two day conference organised by the UK and Cuban sides of the Cuba Initiative.
.k The seminar will be formally opened by Minister for Basic Industries, Yadira Garcia, and it is expected that there
will be a total of around 50 participants from the Cuban side, made up of key figures who are responsible for
delivering energy policy nationally and regionally, and Cuban enterprises which wish to upscale their existing
renewable energy equipment or develop new overseas markets.
The seminar will include presentations on opportunities for UK companies in the following areas: oil and gas exploration and related
services, biomass, wind energy, wave and tidal energy, and hydroelectric and solar power.
If you would like further information about the seminar and how to attend, please contact Chris Bennett chris.bennett@caribbean-
S7' Caribbean community welcomed to the FCO
SBaroness Kinnock, Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for the Caribbean and the
Commonwealth, reinforced the UK's commitment to the Caribbean during constructive talks
with a range of representatives from the Caribbean community in the UK.
During the event, which was organised with the help of the Caribbean Council, Baroness
Kinnock and participants discussed a number of important issues facing the UK and the
Caribbean, including crime, climate change, the future of the Commonwealth and the global
At a reception following the talks, attended by over 150 members of the Caribbean community in the UK, the Minister paid tribute to
the "huge contribution" that the Caribbean community has made to life in the UK and praised how the UK and the region were coming
together to tackle global challenges.
'The relationship we have with the Caribbean now is more than just good bilateral ties and shared historical and social links. We also
face common problems and challenges... In the round table we just had we discussed some of the new challenges we face the
current economic crisis and drugs and organised crime...'
'We must therefore value our historic ties but more importantly we must nurture our contemporary ties so that we can build for a
common future together with strength and equity.'
In her speech the Minister also paid tribute to the Commonwealth, which will hold its Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in
Trinidad & Tobago later this month. Commenting that there was "no organisation better placed to discuss and react to ... poverty
eradication and climate change", the Minister called on guests to take part in the debate around the Commonwealth's future, through
the Commonwealth Conversation.
Virgin Atlantic Launches Direct Flights to Puerto Rico
The first Virgin Atlantic flight from London Gatwick to San Juan, Puerto Rico departed on 7 November. This will make it Virgin Atlantic's
9th Caribbean destination.
Nick Parker, Virgin Atlantic Country Manager for the Caribbean, said: "The Caribbean has remained a strong market for Virgin Atlantic
since we first started flying there in 1998 and we are thrilled to be adding San Juan. Virgin Atlantic flies nearly two million passengers
each year from London Gatwick and Puerto Rico will serve to increase this further, especially with many passengers connecting onto
cruises operating within the Caribbean.
Flights from Gatwick depart on Saturdays at 09:25, arriving into San Juan at 16:05 the same day and depart on a Saturday from San
Juan leaving at 18:05, arriving into London Gatwick at 08:35 the following morning.
Oil and gas market visit to Trinidad
22 to 29 January 2010, Port of Spain
Trinidad is home to some key energy players including: Petrotrin (NOC); BPTT (BP Trinidad); BGTT (British Gas Trinidad); National
Gas Company (NGC) and National Energy Company.
With its highly developed industrial sector and geographic position, it not only offers the chance to expand/grow a customer base
in Trinidad but may also provide a gateway to other oil and gas markets of South and North America.
NOF Energy is coordinating a market visit to Trinidad that has been designed to assist both experienced and novice exporters to
meet with new partners and find out about potential business opportunities in the oil and gas market.
We are utilising the in-country knowledge and expertise of The British High Commission of Trinidad and Tobago based in Port of
Spain, to devise a programme of meetings with key players ... to assist you to win business. For more information please contact
Jenna Gray iarav@nofenerYv.co.uk