The carbon tax for British travelers proposed by the UK Labour Government is ‘a major blow to anti-poverty programs in the developing world,’ asserted a development expert.
“At a time when we are encouraging European tourists to boost the economies of developing countries with their tourism resources, the UK government in a single move will deal a body blow to those of us trying to use sustainable tourism to alleviate poverty,” said Lelei LeLaulu, president of the Island Nations Climate and Oceans Program and director of the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx).
“Tourism is the largest voluntary flow of resources from the ‘haves’ to the ‘have-nots’ of the world,” asserted LeLaulu, “and the UK’s Air Passenger Duty is about to choke that flow.”
“Tourism plays a crucial role in the creation of employment, which is especially important during the current economic crisis,” he added.
“If they wanted to help, the UK should give those levies to the poorer countries who are twisting and turning to feed their people during the global financial crisis,” suggested LeLaulu, who is also a founding director of the World Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development (www.desti-nations.net).
“As it is, we have no idea where these monies will end up. Most likely in Treasury bail-outs of UK banks – so why are we in the developing world paying for the excessive greed of Europe’s richest?” he queried.
“If they want to help boost the UK economy as well as help to fight poverty in faraway lands, Prime Minister Brown should offer cash incentives to British citizens to encourage them to dig into their savings accounts and buy tickets on UK airlines and with UK-owned travel agents. By so doing UK travelers will use their savings accounts to help revive the UK economy and those of destination countries, rather than smothering the travel urge with this huge wet blanket of a tax,” asserted LeLaulu.
“Furthermore, in addition to stemming the flow of much needed tourism revenues for the island nations of the Pacific and Asia, the UK tax will adversely affect the attempts by long-haul carriers like Qantas, Virgin and Air New Zealand to cut their emissions through innovative technologies,” contended LeLaulu who is also chairman of the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International (www.fspi.org.fj).
In the (mostly former British) Caribbean countries, the UK Air Passenger Duty will hike air ticket costs from Britain to the Caribbean.
“This is discrimination against the Caribbean region and illogically allocates it to a higher tax band than other major competing destinations. Latin American and Caribbean leaders should make a joint stand against these punishing levies,” urged LeLaulu.
“The targeting of Caribbean flights suggests that the replenishment of the UK treasury coffers – and not the lowering of carbon emissions – is the primary aim of these punitive taxes,” he opined.
LeLaulu asserted the tourism industry continues to be amongst the most dynamic economic sectors generating a wide range of benefits, including a growing contribution to GDP and substantial foreign exchange earnings for all countries. The UK has become one the industry’s largest source markets.