Friday, 28 November 2014

Do UK-bound tourists face an entry charge?

AIRLINES have criticized suggestions that a Labour government in Britain would impose an entry charge on visitors from countries the citizens of which are not required to obtain a visa to enter the UK.

The income would fund 1,000 additional border force staff, says the country’s opposition Labour party.

The charge – approximately £10 per visit – would affect visitors from the US and 55 other countries with a visa waiver agreement with the UK.

Labour estimates that approximately 5.5 million travellers – many from the US, Australia, and Canada – a year would have to pay the fee.

British Air Transport Association chief executive Nathan Stower said carriers have significant concerns about the proposal. ‘Visitors from countries like the US and Australia already pay the highest air passenger tax in the world to fly to the UK – £71 from next April – contributing billions of pounds to the Treasury. Adding yet another charge will make the UK more uncompetitive in attracting tourists, businesses, and inbound investment.

‘It is not clear how this proposed charge would be collected. The vast majority of visitors who are not required to obtain a visa to enter the UK do not currently provide information to UK authorities ahead of their visit.

‘Furthermore, if more money were to be raised from airline passengers alone, it would be only fair for this to fund improvements in the border at airports and not at other ports of entry such as Calais.’

Go Holiday news editor David Kernek comments: The Labour Party hasn’t yet provided full details as to how this entry charge – in reality, a tourism tax – would work. It’s very possible that the full details don’t as yet exist!

In principle, though, I can’t see anything wrong with a tourist tax. A charge of £10 or even £20 is unlikely to deter many visitors. But it couldn’t be imposed only on tourists who travel to Britain by air; that would be seriously unfair. It would also have to be paid by tourists who arrive at sea ports, and those who come here by train from France.

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