It is one of the most vexed questions for the UK travel industry, and regularly causes howls of anguish from air carriers, airport managers and travel agencies alike – with some even claiming that it places the very idea of cheap holidays overseas in jeopardy.
I am of course referring to Air Passenger Duty (APD), variously described as the “passenger tax” or the “tourist tax” by its critics.
However, despite its universal panning across the travel sector, a recent poll appears to show that the majority of UK holidaymakers remain unaware of the tax, and those that do are remarkably unconcerned about it.
The survey, by Skyscanner, found that 56 per cent of UK travellers were not aware of APD, while of those that could define what the tax was, a mere 7 per cent said that it played “an important role” in their decision-making when it came to booking cheap holidays involving air travel. Some 21 per cent of respondents said that APD was “not a key factor” in their choices, while another 18 per cent said that even if they felt it would negatively affect their budget, they would still not allow it to put them off booking cheap holidays to their initial destination of choice.
The UK government is set to announce changes to the banding system of APD, which levies higher charges the further afield that passengers wish to fly. A ministerial statement at the end of the month will announce the changes, and travel operators are anxiously awaiting the details – particularly whether the government opts to backdate the passenger tax to include flights already booked for beyond April next year.
But Skyscanner chief executive Gareth Williams commented: “APD charges introduced last year have little impact on flight searches from the UK and some destinations that incurred the highest charges, such as the Caribbean and Singapore, have seen a significant increase year on year.”