From ADEWALE SANYAOLU, in London
Nigerians travelling to the United Kingdom (UK), are to pay a staggering £1.139 billion (about N290.445 billion) cumulatively in taxes under a fresh regime of tax initiative to be introduced by the UK Government from April 1, 2013. This was part of the findings released in the World Travel Market (WTM) 2012, Industry Report at the ongoing WTM Conference in London, yesterday.
According to the report signed by the Chairman of WTM, Mrs Fiona Jeffery, the taxes, which is categorized under the UK’s Air Passenger Duty (APD), is possibly the most controversial and long running of all the taxes in the tourism industry. Nigeria is categorized under the Band B, which is a distance covering (2001-4001 miles) to the UK with each passenger paying about £134 in APD as against £130 paid for this year, an increase of £4.
According to recent statistics released by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), which put passenger traffic to the UK from Nigeria at 8.5 million passengers as against 7.5 million in 2010. APD was introduced in 1994 with a £5 rate for the UK/European Union and £10 elsewhere. Since then, it has seen several increases. In 2009, four geographical bands were introduced based on the distance from London to the capital city of the country concerned (with exception of the Russian Federation which is spilt east and west of the Urals).
By April 1 2012,APD was increased by double the rate of inflation and increases further in 2013 with APD expected to raise £3.9 billion by 2016-2017,compared to £2.7 billion 2011-2012.The latest increase means it has increased at 20 times the rate of inflation in the last seven years. With this trend, UK has the highest rate of air tax in the world, some 400 percent more than most EU countries. Fiona lamented that taxation remains high on the agenda of the travel and tourism industry as governments globally look to raise much-needed funds by hitting businesses and visitors with increased and new levies.
“It is arguably the industry’s biggest issue, with the last 12 months seeing a number of new taxes introduced or existing taxes increased even further. Six out of ten of the senior industry personnel polled say taxation is having the greatest negative impact on the tourism industry,” she regretted.