Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has been ordered to rest after spending yesterday afternoon at the Cross Crossing Medical Centre, San Fernando, due to a high blood sugar level.
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Dookeran sees more UK tourists with revised tax
The UK has reduced the Air Passenger Duty (APD) for UK visitors to the Caribbean from 300 pounds to 240 pounds sterling following an intense lobby by T&T, acting Prime Minister Winston Dookeran said yesterday. Dookeran, head of Caricom’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said that would greatly assist regional tourism since the APD’s original level had affected travel to the region. He made the announcement at a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair. With him were the Minister of Transport Stephen Cadiz and Minister of Tourism Chandresh Sharma.
Dookeran said T&T and the region had mounted a lobby with UK authorities since 2011 on the issue. It was followed up at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka when T&T met with the UK Foreign Minister about it. He said Government yesterday received word from the UK that that government would remove the inequities in the system as it affected Caribbean states. Dookeran said the UK’s recent budget statement announced reforming the APD by abolishing Bands C and D and stipulating that flights to South Asia and the Caribbean will pay tax at a lower Band B rate, resulting in lower fares for people travelling from the UK to the Caribbean.
He added: “This will increase the flow of traffic between the Caribbean and the UK and will increase trade tourism potential as well as strengthen the region’s important links with the diaspora and positively affect economic growth. “A study done by PriceWaterhouse for Caricom had identified the negative impact of the tax on the tourism market but we will now be treated as other states of the world and won’t have this extreme duty.” Dookeran also said Government had been successful in lobbying to have T&T added to the list of states exempted from the Schengen visa required by European countries. Efforts for this arrangement are now in force at bilateral level. No visa will be required by TT citizens for up to 90 days.