reports searches for Barbados vacations down 23% !

Increases to UK’s Air Passenger Duty to blame

No other single statistic we’ve seen comes close to illustrating what devastation has been wrought by the UK Government against Barbados. This new report from CheapFlights says it all.

We are especially troubled that Barbados appears to be twice as hard hit as other Caribbean destinations. Why is that? Could it be that our upscale reputation is costing us ordinary tourists in an economic slowdown… or could there be something else happening too? Are people less satisfied with a Barbados vacation than some other Caribbean destinations?

THAT is something to think about. Perhaps our resident tourism expert Adrian Loveridge could sound off on that question?

Our thanks to CheapFlights for their comprehensive press release, and for standing up for us ordinary folks in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean who depend upon tourism to feed our families. Here is their press release in full…

CheapFlights UK notes 11+% reduction in Caribbean Search Traffic, post 2009 increase in UK Air Passenger Duty.

Popular destinations hit hardest – Searches fall up to 23%

21 October 2010, London: As the latest rise in the UK’s air passenger duty (APD) looms on 1st November, Cheapflights Media, an international media network providing users with different ways to find low cost travel, has been tracking the impact of APD on it’s UK site’s search traffic for Caribbean destinations over the past year following the UK’s introduction of the sharply increased four tier APD in November 2009.

Annual traffic data to end September 2010 for eight popular Caribbean destinations on shows an annual average 11.6% drop in Caribbean destination searches compared to the previous year. This chimes with the recent statement by the head of the Caribbean Tourist Organisation (CTO), Hugh Riley, that visitor numbers to the region from the UK had fallen by 12.2% since November 2009 when the then new four band Air Passenger Duty (APD) placed the Caribbean in Band C, the third most expensive tax band.   Air Passenger Duty is applied to tickets for all passengers departing from the UK by air – including on return tickets bought in the Caribbean area.  The four (2000 mile) bands are calculated on the distance from London to the capital city of the destination country.

The link between the cost of the Caribbean’s Band C APD and the current reduced demand from the UK is supported by the fact that annual online searches for the popular destination islands of Jamaica and Barbados have seen 13.2% and 23% falls respectively.  This is in the context of overall increased traffic to the UK site, whilst over the same period the CTO reports seeing a small overall annual increase in visitors to both islands.

Introduced in 1994 at a sustainable level which was levied until February 2007, after this November 1st , APD will have risen 275% above pre-2007 rates for all cabin classes to the Caribbean!  In Band C APD, from November 1st 2009, Economy passengers for the Caribbean were obliged to pay £50 tax per seat and Premium Cabin seat passengers paid £100 tax a head.

APD will increase again on November 1st 2010 to £75 and £150 respectively.   Bizarrely because of the capital city distance from London measurement rule, after November 1st economy seats for Band C destinations will cost £25 more tax at £75 than seats for Band B Hawaii (7230 miles) at £60.  This is even though Hawaii is nearly twice as far from the UK.

Mr Riley also stated: “APD must be a contributory factor in the decline in visitors from the UK” he added. “It is logical that if you increase the cost of a product then you reduce demand.”

Carol Hay, Caribbean Tourism Organisation director of marketing for UK and Europe said: “We are very concerned to hear of the variance in Cheapflights UK’s year-on-year search traffic for Caribbean destinations since the launch of the four tier Air Passenger Duty last November.  We appreciate there may be many factors at play in such statistics; however it adds weight to our argument to politicians that all destinations and all British travellers are being affected by such high taxation.”

Francesca Ecsery, Cheapflights’ global sales director, commented: “APD is a regressive tax and it is evident that it hurts not only those consumers least able to afford it, but also all those economies dependent on tourism from the UK.  Faced with such statistics, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that APD is having a significantly negative effect on travel from the UK to the Caribbean.  A family of four travelling Economy class from the UK (or returning home to the Caribbean)  will have to pay £300 (US$473.25) in tax as from 1st November. Premium class will pay double that!  Hence it’s no wonder that Tourism Ministers from the CTO have been lobbying the UK Government to at least relegate the Caribbean into Band B.”


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Consumer Issues, Economy

10 responses to “ reports searches for Barbados vacations down 23% !

  1. Green Monkey

    Are people less satisfied with a Barbados vacation than some other Caribbean destinations?

    Hmm, good question. Maybe they’d rather come to the Caribbean to look at trees and an ocean view than to look at racing ZR vans, noisy traffic, concrete condos and walls.

  2. Johnny Postle

    I do not see why I would come to an island who is more expensive than any other island and who offers very little in eco tourism when compared to other islands that are not as develop but have alot more to see, do and offer.

  3. We don’t look on the Cheap Flights site as there are never any cheap flights. Only Virgin fly from Manchester and BA from London so they can charge what they like. Flights from Manchester only leave on a Sunday, so it is not suprising people are not choosing Barbados. A flight only this time of year is over 600 pounds.

  4. UK also too darned expensive a destination!

    In view of their recent budget cuts announced by Mr.Cameron’s Chancellor
    UK is going to be going thru hard times for the next 5 yrs. or so.

    Their economic contraction is going to affect our UK tourism,
    other than the ultra-rich who we don’t like(Cliff Richard and friends)


    But even before that,
    Britain’s Far-Flung-Destinations tax
    was chomping something like 150 pounds per person out of every departure’s spending money!!
    Doubtless, Brits are choosing to visit tired ole Spain instead,
    and pay 40-50 Pounds ripoff rather than 150,no?

    This London airports ‘escape tax’ has also affected my decisions to visit the UK!
    I have other cheaper places to visit.

    So it doesn’t only affect our tourism, it also affects theirs!!
    I’m sure analytical travellers elsewhere are thinking just like me! *smile!*

  5. Smiles 'n chuckles

    My one and only trip to Barbados was five years ago and no one smiled. I had to beg to be served in the shops. I’m not talking a few incidents I’m talking every contact with a Barbados person.

    At first I thought it was me. I have traveled all over the world to 39 different countries and I have never seen the contempt for tourists that I saw when I visited Barbados. Ten days was like ten weeks in hell.

  6. Donald Duck Esq

    Everyone seems to be focussed on the APD and has forgotten that the VAT rate in the UK increases from 17.5% to 20% on Jan 1. How much will this cost a family of 4 coming to Barbados from the uk from Jan 1?

  7. Adrian Loveridge

    Thank you for including me and I do have some observations, but I would prefer to comment after a couple of days of reflection in deference to the Thompson family.
    Our thoughts are with them.

  8. Life goes on, dude.

    Donald, thanks for the reminder!
    20% VAT!!! That’s nice…
    That’s encouraging. That’s absolutely ridiculous!

    Where does it end? -at 50%?
    Who the he11 do they think they are?
    Why not just take us outside for a good shakedown and confiscate our wallets -and be done with it?

    I’m fairly sure now that I’ve visited England for the last time.
    I can barely afford to live in Barbados.
    I certainly can’t afford to travel to the UK for a holiday!

  9. We don’t look on the Cheap Flights site as there are never any cheap flights.

  10. I get pleasure from, lead to I discovered just what I used to be taking a look for.
    You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a great day. Bye