Britain is losing out on business from overseas corporate travel buyers, managers and agents as it is too expensive, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne has been told in an open letter.
Some 65 travel industry representatives signed the letter, from countries including Japan, Dubai, Greece, Sweden, the United States, Hong Kong and Canada.
In the letter, the signatories wrote: “We the undersigned corporate travel managers and Travel Management Company executives from around the world write to you with the deepest concern over the UK Air Passenger Duty, which has risen some 325% over 6 years.”
The signatories urged the UK government to reduce air passenger duty (APD) in particular as it has made the UK uncompetitive for meetings, incentive trips, conventions and tourism.
They said: “Collectively we facilitate hundreds of millions of pounds of annual travel activities, and the UK is already losing our business to European destinations that have no such duty, or whose duty is a fraction of the UK’s.
“To be clear, the UK is a coveted destination; however, budgets are tight around the world and just a few hundred pounds difference in cost can cause the UK to lose significant business that sustains jobs and powers the UK economy.”
Gary Silverstein from Mann Travels added:“We have eliminated the UK from any consideration for incentive groups and meetings due to the high taxes.”
Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the US-based Business Travel Coalition helped organize the signatory letter.
He said: “The world’s travel community is indeed paying keen attention to and advising clients based upon aviation taxation developments in the UK.
“Demand is clearly being impacted by this growing tax burden. If not reversed soon, the UK will acquire a long-term and hard-to-shake image of being too expensive a destination for many business-travel related activities.”