Giving control over Air Passenger Duty (APD) to the Scottish Parliament could encourage visitors to come to the country for the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games, transport and tourism bosses say.
The Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup will be held in Scotland next year but some industry leaders believe tourists could be put off from flying to the country because of high APD charges.
Late last year, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports commissioned a report that claimed the charge could lead to a drop in both passengers and tourism spending. The tax could cost the Scottish economy £210 milliona year by 2016 and reduce the number of visitors by 2.1 million a year.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “Scotland will welcome the world in 2014 courtesy of the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, and yet we are in the absurd situation of increasing costs for people who intend to visit Scotland.
“The ‘World Economic Forum, Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013’ shows that the UK has amongst the highest aviation taxes and charges in the world, ranked 139th out of 140.
“I would urge the UK Government to deliver devolution of APD as soon as possible so that we can develop a regime that makes Scotland more competitive.”
Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said airlines are questioning the viability of basing planes in Scotland because of APD.
He said: “This tax has now hit its tipping point where the damage that it is doing to Scotland far outweighs the benefits. It cannot stand and must be reviewed as a matter of urgency.
“Airlines are telling us that they are seeing it have an impact on passenger flows which is ultimately having an impact on their decision making on where to put planes. This means that our country has to work harder to get the connections it requires.
“The evidence lays bare the argument that this tax is assisting with the deficit. Rather, APD is hindering our ability to tackle the economic challenges Scotland faces.”
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