Proposed UK Air Tax Concerns BHA

The Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) is conceding the region was unsuccessful in averting a proposed UK Air Tax hike that may slash traffic from that destination — yet is still hopeful of being reclassed in a less onerous category.

According to the BHA's 2009 Activity Report, efforts to advocate for the elimination or reduction of a proposed United Kingdom Air Passenger Duty increase on all flights winging their way into the country were fruitless, given the increases were implemented last November.

"The BHA sought the Bahamas government's support for the elimination or 're-banding' of The Bahamas and the Caribbean to reduce the impact," read the report.

"It was unsuccessful and the increases took effect November, 2009.

"There's still chance for change to 're-band' the region."

The statements refer to proposed increases contained in the UK's Finance Bill before that nation's parliament, which took effect last November. It means all passengers winging their way to the Caribbean will be required to pay a minimum of $100 for economy travel and twice as much for any higher class of travel. The fee can be lowered depending on the distance between the UK and the respective country, or which 'band' a nation falls in.

The Bahamas currently falls in a band with the rest of the Caribbean, which has been categorized a farther band than the US. It's a situation translating into higher priced flights for visitors to The Bahamas. The price hike could essentially compromise the Ministry of Tourism's efforts to grow the number of UK travelers with the addition of mid-priced hotels on the Cable Beach strip and around the country.

Still, Tourism's Director General Vernice Walkine suggested in an earlier interview that The Bahamas stood a good chance at withstanding any havoc wreaked by the UK's air tax hike.

"We still have enough of an image in the UK and we're still somewhat aspirational," she told Guardian Business.

"There are those that despite the increase will chose to visit the islands of The Bahamas, who find the kind of product we have is premium and will come."

Source: The Nassau Guardian