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Cruisers Face Tax Hike In U.K.

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Despite the best efforts of the travel industry to protest, there's less than a week to go before British travellers suffer yet another hike in the deeply unpopular Air Passenger Duty (APD), the tax imposed on all flights from the United Kingdom.

APD goes up by double the rate of inflation on 1 April, it was announced in last week's budget, and will mean the tax cost of a family of four flying to Florida to join a cruise will go up from £240 to £260. Flying to the Caribbean is even more expensive, because of a complicated banding system, and for a family of four, the tax goes up from £300 to £324. There will be yet another increase next year. And anybody who has already booked and paid to travel beyond 1 April will have to pay the difference between the existing level and the new level of APD before checking in.

Visitors to Britain also have to pay APD on their flight out of the U.K., which industry leaders claim will have an adverse affect on tourism. Simon Buck, the chief executive of the British Air Transport Association, is reported by The Daily Telegraph as saying: "Passengers departing from U.K. airports already pay the highest taxes on flying in the world and this further increase will do nothing to support the Government's aspiration to grow U.K. tourism and support British jobs."

APD was introduced in 2005 and has increased by up to 360 percent since then. Meanwhile, fly-cruising to the Caribbean fell by 13 percent between 2010 and 2011, with cruise lines blaming the drop mainly on the increased cost of getting there.

The Passenger Shipping Association, which represents 35 ocean cruise lines, has not issued a statement, but did write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer before the budget, asking for the banding system to be reviewed and for the government to reconsider its position on APD, to no avail.

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