For immediate release
Jamaican High Commissioner HE Aloun Ndombet-Assamba Nominated for Grassroot Diplomat Award for Air Passenger Duty Reform
London, UK – April 20, 2016 – Her Excellency Mrs. Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, High Commissioner of Jamaica to the Court of St James, has been shortlisted from over 100 government nominations this year for the 4th Annual Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award. The award recognises outstanding politicians and diplomats who are representing civilian interests at the highest level in areas of policy, social and business overall. Ms Ndombet-Assamba has been nominated for her lobbying efforts to reform Air Passenger Duty affecting tourism between UK and the Caribbean.
The controversial travel tax was introduced by Britain in 1994 as measure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. However, the tax made flying into Jamaica and the Caribbean more expensive, attracting substantial taxes that hurt airlines, business users and consumers. The UK is the fastest growing market for Jamaica but tax rise for air passenger led to more than 28,000 tourists being lost to competing markets outside of the Caribbean (Telegraph, Sept 2011).
The High Commissioner described the APD as being discriminatory and harmful to small Commonwealth nations, stating that “the system unduly favours the United States and short-haul destinations in Europe.” The main inequality of the band system is that when travelling to Jamaica (roughly 4,700 miles from the UK), passengers pay more duty than those travelling to Hawaii, some 7,000 miles away.
The APD was increased regularly, making billions in revenues for the UK government but increased the price to travel from the UK to the Caribbean. In addition to reversing the adverse effects on tourism-dependent economies, the removal of the tax would result in the creation of an additional 91,000 jobs and £4.2 billion being added to the economy (WTCC, March 2011).
As former Minister of Tourism, Ms Ndombet-Assamba is acutely aware of the key role tourism plays in Jamaica’s economic growth and development. Tourism is a lifeblood for the island which is also responsible for creating jobs and entrepreneurialism for local residents. Ms Ndombet-Assamba worked closely with other Caribbean countries and led the effort to secure an item on the Commonwealth Summit agenda to get the matter discussed by those countries affected by APD.
The active campaign by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Governments, UK-based High Commissioners led by Ms Ndombet-Assamba and the UK Caribbean Diaspora resulted in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, in his budget statement in 2014 announcing that all long haul flights will carry the same, lower, band B tax rate as the United States. The new measures took effect in April 2015.
Since the changes, Jamaica has seen 31.5% increase in tourism over the past two years and continues to make steady increases in fuelling tourism back to other Caribbean islands.
Talyn Rahman-Figueroa, Executive Director of Grassroot Diplomat, said: “All too often, we hear stories of our governments not representing our needs but Grassroot Diplomat looks upon selfless individuals in a position of power, who work tirelessly for their communities. The award seeks to create a culture of positive role models within our governments which encourages others like them to follow suit. Grassroot Diplomat winners go beyond their job descriptions and those shortlisted for the award should be proud to be recognised this far.”
Ms Ndombet-Assamba has shown great dedication in bringing the Jamaican diaspora and Caribbean communities together to lobby on this important case, and was successful on winning on a policy matter that would have negatively impaired the islands economic development.
Join HE Aloun Ndombet-Assamba and other government nominees for the gala dinner at The May Fair Hotel, London on Wednesday 20th April, 2016. For ticket information please visit: http://www.grassrootdiplomat.org/book-tickets or call 07511 816689.
Further details about the awards can be found on: www.grassrootdiplomat.org/annual-awards
About Grassroot Diplomat
Grassroot Diplomat is a non-profit diplomatic consultancy with the mission to build trust and strengthen relationships between governments and civil society. As an independent agency, Grassroot Diplomat shows no allegiance to a solitary government but will act in the interest of the people, no matter where they are or what state their country is in. We focus on improving public diplomacy activities by engaging government officials on sustainable social campaigns and investment projects that offers a positive rate of return for their people.
Jamaican High Commissioner
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 823 9911