The UK industry coalition A Fair Tax on Flying campaign has demanded a review of APD’s impact on the UK economy and its competitiveness, so far without success.
However, the OECD declined to comment specifically on APD or UK tax policy.
Alain Dupeyras, head of the tourism unit at the OECD centre for entrepreneurship, said: “We are able to show some taxes support tourism. But we are not ready to discuss taxation and competitiveness. The evidence is mixed.”
He added: “We won’t enter a discussion of specific taxes.”
Dupeyras said: “Everybody recognises the benefits tourism brings to the economy. Tourism has gained a little in importance because of the [financial] crisis.”
The OECD report covers the period 2008-12 and Dupayras said: “Tourism showed remarkable resilience during the crisis.” But he added: “Active tourism policies are essential.”
The OECD includes most of the world’s developed economies – the European Union and much of the rest of Europe, Turkey, the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Korea and Mexico.
Its report notes the industry accounts for 4.7% of GDP and 6% of employment in OECD member countries, which together account for almost 60% of global tourism.
OECD members saw average growth in arrivals of 1.9% between 2008 and 2012. However, tourism receipts across OECD members rose just 0.7%.
The OECD report notes: “Long-haul flights from Europe have fallen … as more people take shorter trips” and “travellers are getting older, with around one in four aged over 55″.
As a consequence: “Attracting more tourists from emerging economies will be key.”
But the OECD warns: “Travellers from these countries are likely to encounter more demanding visa and entry formalities when visiting OECD countries.”
It urges: “Governments should put in place measures that identify and facilitate high volume, low risk, legitimate travellers so they can travel more freely.
Sourced from Travel Weekly
Speaking at German travel trade show ITB in Berlin, Craigs said: “Of course, traffic [to Thailand] has dropped off.
“What is instructive is how huge the drop is according to [government] travel advisories.
“Hong Kong dropped 60% from January to January. But traffic from the UK was almost 10% up January on January.”
Craigs said the reason was: “Hong Kong’s travel advisory put Bangkok in the same category as Syria.”
The UK Foreign Office has not advised against travel to Thailand, reflecting the fact that protests have remained confined to Bangkok.
Craigs reported hotel occupancy in downtown Bangkok at 20%-30%.
He told Travel Weekly: “Of course, people book further in advance from Britain, the UK market is used to a little turmoil and the majority are not coming to spend two weeks in Bangkok.
“The UK and Hong Kong are the most extreme examples of what has happened.” Pata estimates total visitor numbers to Thailand were down 16% year on year in January.
Craigs insisted: “It’s not a Ukrainian-style situation [in Bangkok]. Twenty-two people have been killed in three months in sporadic attacks by extremists.
“Nothing has been closed: 98% of Bangkok has not been affected. The airport has not been affected at all.”
But he said: “About five million Thai jobs depend on tourism and there are 750,000 jobs at stake if this goes on.
“We have to be honest. If the situation is not resolved – and there is a lot of work to be done – at some point there will be a cost.
“We’ve had floods, the tsunami – the resilience [of Thai tourism] has been amazing. But if this continues, we can’t pretend it will be ‘teflon Thailand’ forever.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly
The IPK World Travel Monitor data, unveiled at German trade show ITB in Berlin, suggest spending on overseas travel came near to €1 trillion in 2013.
IPK International chief executive Rolf Freitag told attendees at ITB: “Tourism has proven to be a growth driver in the global economy again.”
Spending worldwide rose 6% year on year to €989 billion as the number of nights spent abroad grew 4% to 7.6 billion.
Freitag suggested travel in the ‘advanced economies’ would grow “somewhat more strongly” this year than last “while the travel boom from developing countries could slacken”.
He forecast 4% growth in outbound travel in Europe this year, following 3% growth in 2013 to 432 million trips and 2% growth in 2012.
The number of nights European travellers spent abroad last year remained flat at 3.5 billion, according to IPK, but spending rose 2% to €368 billion.
Beach holidays saw 4% growth year on year across Europe and city breaks 5% growth.
IPK recorded 3% growth in the UK while Europe’s biggest outbound market, Germany, saw 2% growth. Russia enjoyed a 13% increase in outbound travel.
Growth in Germany’s outbound market outpaced domestic travel growth “for the first time in many years”, according to IPK.
Germans made more than 75 million trips abroad and took 55 million outbound holidays, pushing total travel spending in Germany up 6%.
IPK forecast a further 5% increase in worldwide travel this year.
The UNWTO reported international travel passed a record one billion travellers at the end of 2012.
Sourced from Travel Weekly
Newly appointed UK market director Sophie Dekkers (pictured) pointed out that even in a record year for profitability for the budget carrier last year the amount made per passenger was £7, up from just £2 in previous years.
APD on short-haul flights is due to rise to £13 in April and there is the prospect that Osborne could signal further increases in the air tax in this month’s budget.
“My role as UK director is to grow easyJet in the UK. We have a new fleet coming in and I will be campaigning to try to secure as many of those aircraft as we can.
“Look at the numbers on commercial performance and other markets perform significantly stronger. APD has a real impact on my ability to challenge internationally and secure aircraft for the UK.
“If we want growth in the UK it would make a big difference to have a complete rethink about how it [APD] is structured and working.”
Addressing guests at the reception, Dekkers quoted the results of a PricewaterhouseCoopers report commissioned by the Fair Tax on Flying campaign.
It concluded abolishing the tax could generate a net gain for the Treasury of £16 billion over three years and create 160,000 jobs.
She said a World Economic Report highlighted how the UK due to having some of the world’s highest air taxes was 139th out of 140 in terms of a key competitiveness indicator.
“It’s hard to find another comparable table on a key measure of international competitiveness which shows Britain in this position,” Dekkers said.
Industry campaigners accept the Treasury is highly unlikely to change its policy on APD that brings in revenues of £3 billion a year and is the second easiest to collect.
However, they believe the high profile Fair Tax on Flying campaign, which has gained support from airlines which are mortal enemies, as well as organisations like Abta, has prevented larger increases.
Dekkers believes the message is getting through to MPs. “I think we are gradually getting there. I think there is a nervousness from the government about how much they are going to lose.
“The PwC report gave us an independent review that abolishing the tax would create additional taxes and cover the losses from other tax revenues.”
Robert Goodwill MP, Parliamentary under secretary for transport, said the government wanted to encourage aviation to grow and that it was investing in infrastructure to aid this.
He said under the current growth forecast the numbers of flyers will double by 2050, meaning Gatwick will be at full capacity by 2020 and Luton by 2030.
“We need to make sure the UK has the connections to prosper. Difficult decisions have been put off for too long.
“We want to see the aviation sector in Britain, with companies like easyJet, opening new routes and creating new jobs and wealth. That’s why we are committed to improving infrastructure over the next couple of years.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly
By Phil Davies,
Dubai’s popularity with European tourists is to be boosted by an exemption to travellers from a further 13 countries from requiring pre-entry visas.
People from the other 15 European member states, including the UK, are already exempt.
The announcement by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs means that all citizens of the European Union holding an ordinary passport will be allowed to enter the UAE without having to previously apply for a visa from March 22.
The 13 countries that come under the new exemption are: Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Dubai’s top 20 visitor source markets in 2013 included five European Union countries, each of which were already exempt from requiring pre-arrival visas: the UK (ranked 3rd), Germany (7th), France (14th), Italy (17th) and Holland (20th).
Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “This is a very positive announcement from the UAE ministry of foreign affairs and one which will have a significant impact on the attractiveness of Dubai as a destination for tourists from the 13 countries included today in the exemption.
“With regards to business visitors, the exemption for citizens of all European member states further enhances Dubai’s status as the meeting point for Europe to host and conduct business with the partners from across the MENASA supra-region.
“European countries have traditionally featured prominently in our top 20 source markets for visitors, with more than 2.8 million Europeans staying in our hotels during 2013.
“The lifting of visa restrictions provides for easier travel arrangements from across the continent so it is no surprise that the news has been received extremely positively.”
The easing of visa restrictions combines with continual expansion of airline route networks and the opening of a second international airport, to ensure that Dubai is ever more accessible and connected to the world, he added.
Dubai’s tourism vision for 2020 sets out how the city will double its annual visitor numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million in 2020.
Sourced by Travel Weekly
Analysis of data for 2013 shows that the last quarter of the year marked positive changes for the sector in terms of passenger numbers, aircraft movements and numbers of routes.
Although overall numbers of passengers fell by 3.9% compared to 2012, a return to month-on-month passenger growth in September bucked a trend of 18 months of negative growth.
While aircraft movements fell by 2.5% across 2013, the second half saw a return to positive growth in keeping with improved passenger growth performance.
ERA director general Simon McNamara noted that operational efficiency for Europe’s regional operators improved in 2013, with average load factor rising to 71.2% against 69.4% in the previous year.
Airlines also increased their efforts to accommodate passenger demands by offering more routes in 2013 with a rise of 4.2%. The most marked increase in growth in routes was recorded in the final three months of the year.
McNamara said: “Last year’s results show that ERA member airlines are meeting the challenges of these difficult market conditions head on through increased operational flexibility, efficient fleets and a proactive approach to passenger demands.
“The last two years have been extremely testing for our members so to see a modest return to growth at the end of 2013 is encouraging.”
He added: “Now is the time for Europe to support regional operators and regional development by reviewing the regulatory burden and additional costs that are imposed on intra-European carriers.
“Europe lacks a long-term vision when it comes to developing aviation and harnessing its benefits for regional development. With a new Parliament and Commission in 2014 now is the time for action.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly
Staff at the airline are opposed to changes being made to their pensions without their consent.
Airport authority employees also face reform of their pension arrangements.
A four-hour strike, from 5am to 9am, is due to go ahead at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports.
An expert panel has been appointed to investigate the long-running dispute over threatened benefit cuts in the joint aviation pension scheme.
It is due to issue a preliminary report at the end of the month, the BBC reported.
The dispute centres on a €750 million deficit in the pension scheme that covers staff at the airline and the DAA.
Sourced from Travel Weekly
Austria and Croatia have performed particularly well, as have guided walking weeks in Portugal and the Canary Islands.
Additional capacity on key dates this year is being added where possible, with further expansion planned for 2015.
The operator features almost 40 European walking holiday destinations for small groups based in independent hotels. HF Holidays operates 19 country houses in the UK as bases for guided walking and leisure activity holidays.
European product manager Steven Purdham said: “We are very pleased to see such high demand for our guided walking holidays in Europe. Sociable walking in superb destinations is our passion at HF Holidays, and it is great news that more and more people are getting on board with this enthusiasm.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly
As the police and Abta issue a warning over holiday fraud, Nick Trend advises on how you can protect yourself
By Nick Trend
10:02AM GMT 04 Mar 2014
When you book directly with the owner, there’s a greater risk of fraud. Nearly 30 per cent of holiday fraud victims in 2013 were fooled by the fraudulent advertisement of holiday villas and apartments, according to a report compiled by the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), with many arriving at their destination to discover they had nowhere to stay.
Fortunately, there are simple ways in which to protect yourself.
The safest way to book accommodation is through a tour operator as part of a package holiday, as the operator has to take responsibility for the booking and guarantee that you won’t lose money. By contrast, many villa rental websites are simply advertising services, and you are booking directly with the owners, not via an agent or operator. You may pay a little less, but there is a greater risk of fraud, and disputes may be more difficult to resolve. These tips will help make your booking more secure.
1. Check how long the villa has been advertised – usually the joining date of the advertiser is given on the website. The longer it has been on the books, the more likely it is to be genuine and legitimate.
2. Check reviews by other renters, either on the site you are booking through, or on TripAdvisor (they may be on both). Good reviews can be faked – beware of those that are nothing but glowing accounts; bad ones tell their own story. Clearly, it is unlikely that a good villa/helpful owners will get many, if any, bad reviews.
3. Use maps.google.com to confirm the location of the villa, and, once you have located it, you may be able to use “street view” to see that the property matches up with the pictures posted online.
4. It is all too easy for fraudsters to list villas they don’t own on villa rental sites, take a booking and disappear with the money. Speak to the owners on the phone – their number should be provided (and note that a landline gives you more security than a mobile). Ask for details about the property, the area etc, and gauge how knowledgeable and trustworthy they seem to be. Ask them for their postal address, too – you would be unwise to sign a contract with anyone whose address you don’t know.
5. Check those details on the internet to see if you can get any more information about the owners, or trace any complaints about them.
6. Use your judgment. If there is something about the website, the property description or the owners that you aren’t happy about, or if the price seems too good to be true, don’t book. There are lots of other villas out there.
7. Be a stickler for paperwork. Do not send any money without receiving, and checking that you are happy with, the written contract. Be very wary of security deposits; ensure that the terms for returning or calling on the deposit are clear, and that the amount is not disproportionate – ten per cent of the rental might be reasonable, more than 25 per cent is clearly too much. Some sites offer the option of taking out damage-waiver insurance, which might cost about £25, rather than paying a deposit.
8. When paying the deposit and balance, always avoid wired money transfersby companies like Western Union, which may be untraceable. Credit card payments are safest. PayPal may provide some protection if yor account is linked to a credit card such as Visa, the card issuer is liable for the fraud – as long as you don’t “load” your PayPal account with money debited to the card before you pay for the villa. Some rental sites such as homeaway.co.uk and villarenters.com have protection schemes which reimburse customers in the case of fraud – read the small print before you book however.
9. Check the property very carefully on arrival, ideally in the company of the owner or managers. Alert them to, and take photographs of, any damage.
10. Be sure to get any security deposit back on leaving the villa. If any deductions are made, ask for proof (i.e. receipts) of the cost deducted.
Other types of holiday fraud
The second most common booking fraud, according to the NFIB report, involved airline tickets that were fake or never turned up, with flights to West Africa a particular target.
Package holidays followed, accounting for 17 per cent of holiday fraud in 2013. It is thought that packages for the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games in Scotland, and travel to the World Cup in Brazil, may prove a target in 2014, so it will pay to research the travel companies you are thinking of booking with.
This article was first published in October 2011 but was updated in full on March 4, 2014.
Sourced from Telegraph Travel
Britons visiting Turkey will still be able to purchase their visa at the airport until the end of the year
By Oliver Smith
Travellers visiting Turkey this summer will no longer be obliged to apply for an electronic visa before they travel after authorities agreed to postpone the introduction of the new system until the end of the year.
Although the e-visas are already up and running, they had been due to replace the existing visa-on-arrival system entirely from April 10. However, Abta, the travel association, had been urging Turkish authorities to extend the transition period to prevent holidaymakers being caught out.
“We are pleased to advise that we have received official confirmation from the attaché at the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey that the transition period of the e-visa process has been extended until December 31, 2014,” it said. “This means that during the transition period from now until December 31, Turkish visas can be obtained both online and at the port of entry.”
Whether purchased online or at an airport kiosk, the cost of the multiple entry visas, which are valid for 90 days, is £10 per person. Those purchasing an e-visa, however, must pay by credit or debit card.
E-visa applicants must provide their name, date and place of birth, a valid email address, and details of their passport. If approved, they will be asked to pay the £10 fee. The visa will then be emailed to them, and must be downloaded and printed out. It should be shown to airport and customs officials in Turkey and kept safe for the duration of the holiday.
According to an immigration official “the entire process takes less than 10 minutes and it will speed up the whole visa application and processing system”.
Travellers are advised to use the official Turkish government website to apply (www.evisa.gov.tr) and should beware of unauthorised websites trying to charge an additional application fee.
“Some unauthorised websites may charge for information about e-visas, and for submitting applications,” the Foreign Office warns on its website. “These websites are not endorsed by or associated with the Turkish government. Be wary of such sites and businesses, particularly those that seek additional fees for other services.”
Several other countries already require visitors to purchase an electronic visa before they travel. Problems with unauthorised websites that charge processing fees have been reported elsewhere, in particular for trips to the US. Those travelling there should use the official Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta.
Sourced from Telegraph Travel