, LONDON, Oct 2 – Tourism Minister Najib Balala has appealed to the British Government to rescind the decision to increase Air Passenger Duty charged on all passengers using UK airports from £50 from November 1 this year, to £75.
He said the tax negatively impacts the growth of tourism especially after the financial crisis.
“Citizens from developing countries are hit hard by visa fees and Air Passenger Duty tax though they have not contributed to air pollution. The British are not sincere and genuine about these taxes because the planes also pollute our air and we get nothing in compensation. If it is truly out of environmental concerns, then all the affected countries should get a share of the £3billion collected every year,” he said.
The Minister who is in London for tourism marketing and promotion was speaking in an interview with CNN\’s Richard Quest (Quest Means Business programme) and later Travel Trade Gazette Journalist in London.
“Kenya gave a fifty percent visa fee discount early in the year in a view to cushion tourists from the financial crisis only for them to be slapped by Airport Passenger Duty of 50 sterling pounds by the UK. There is urgent need to review and abolish altogether the tax as it does not serve the purpose nor help promote the growth of tourism in the world,” he said.
He said despite the economic problems, most countries including Kenya are investing in the improvement of infrastructure and service delivery in order to promote tourism which is one of the world\’s major employer and revenue earner.
The UK tourist market, he said, had fully recovered and the number of tourists to Kenya had increased to 96,000 up by 7 percent up to July 2010 and the figure is expected to surpass the 201,000 received in the 2007 boom.
“The launch of a new Constitution in August 2010 has given us a new platform and there is great opportunity for investment in the sector. Devolution of resources, judicial and police reforms will ensure resources will be shared equitably in the country leading to the development of hitherto marginalized areas and improved security for not only citizens but also visitors,” he said.
The Minister was later scheduled to preside over the second annual Achievers Award ceremony in London where outstanding members of the Diaspora community were to be awarded for their performance.