The Isle of Man Travel Trade Association has slammed the government’s decision to increase departure tax at Ronaldsway Airport.

On March 28, it was confirmed that Air Passenger Duty (APD) for ‘long-haul’ and ‘ultra-long-haul’ would be increased from April 1.

Band B (long-haul) reduced rates have increased by £1, while standard rates for Band B flights have increased by £3. Similarly, Band C (ultra-long-haul) journeys will see tax increases of £1 (reduced) and £2 (standard) respectively.

The reduced rate applies to the lowest class of travel available on the flight, while the standard rate applies to any other class.

The rates of duty for Band A journeys (up to 2,000 miles) are unchanged.

In the wake of the increase, the Isle of Man Travel Trade Association, a body which represents travel agents and tour operators on the island, has spoken out and ‘strongly condemned’ the changes.

The travel association is a ‘collective voice’ that looks to represent the interests of travel agents and tour operator businesses across the island.

In a written statement, the association said: ‘This move will undoubtedly have detrimental effects on the tourism industry, crippling the growth and competitiveness of our local businesses.

‘As representatives of the travel industry, we understand the importance of sustainable funding mechanisms for public services. However, we firmly believe that this increase in airport departure taxes is not the solution. It penalises locals, hindering the economic prosperity of our island.’

The association also referenced the ‘current challenges’ seen within the tourism and travel industry. The statement continued: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on travel and hospitality businesses worldwide.

‘Now, more than ever, we need supportive policies that foster recovery and encourage tourism growth, not measures that impede it.

‘Our Government chooses to charge APD on all flights whereas Jersey and Guernsey do not. Isle of Man travellers are at a distinct disadvantage, and we call on Government to abolish all APD taxes.

‘The Isle of Man Travel Trade Association calls on the government to reconsider and engage in meaningful dialogue with industry stakeholders. Together, we can find alternative solutions that balance the needs of the community with the imperative of sustaining a vibrant tourism sector.’

Explaining the increase, a statement on the Isle of Man Government website reads: ‘Under the terms of the Customs and Excise Agreement, the island is obliged to maintain its Customs and Excise legislation and procedures to ensure they correspond to those in force in the United Kingdom.’

But discussing APD rates during a Tynwald sitting in 2023, Treasury Minister Dr Alex Allinson said: ‘This (APD) duty is equivalent to the same named duty applied by the UK Government, but it is not a shared duty under the Customs and Excise Agreement and there is no requirement to keep the duty rates the same as in the UK.’