2 Apr 2012

Tourism industry critical of rise in British air tax

10:46 pm on 2 April 2012

The Tourism Industry Association has sharply criticised the United Kingdom for increasing the tax on passengers flying from Britain to New Zealand.

The association says the duty tax, which is paid by every traveller departing Britain, has increased by 500% in the past five years.

Four incremental increases since 2007 have taken the cost per passenger from just under $40 to about $180 for economy passengers and almost $370 for all others. The latest rise of 8% was announced on Monday.

The cost for passengers flying locally around Europe has stayed relatively low, going from $10 to $25 in the same period.

Tourism Industry Association policy and research manager Simon Wallace says tourists from Britain bring a huge amount of money to New Zealand and make up the country's second largest market.

"The industry has seen a decline in numbers from the UK over the last few years. Much of that is because of the global financial crisis but anything like this does put a barrier in the way of visitors travelling to long haul destinations like New Zealand and Australia."

Mr Wallace says the British government is calling the rise in air passenger duty an environmental policy but aviation is already covered by the European Union's emissions trading scheme and the increase is really a revenue gathering exercise.

The head of the Aviation Industry Association says the rise comes on top of increased fuel prices and the economic crisis in Europe.

Irene King says the disparity between long and short haul flights is discriminatory and will keep British tourists away from New Zealand.