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Northern Ireland Travel News Unit 1,

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Tel: 028 9066 6151

Contributors: John Trew, Nigel Heath, Robin Nowacki, Patric Baird, Andrea McVeigh, Heidi McAlpin, Ciaran Mulligan, Yasmin Latif, Paul Wilson, Vicky Richards, Ally Thompson, The Holiday NInja, Paul Clements, Michael Beattie, Natasha Warcholak, Fiona McIlwaine Biggins, Margaret Carragher

Pressure Heaped on NI Executive to Scrap APD After Ryanair Pulls All Flights from Province

RYANAIR’S departure from the Province has once again highlighted the issue of Air Passenger Duty (APD) and the pressure it places on airlines and airports here to retain passengers numbers. The cost of APD has long been a concern for all three Northern Ireland airports and the airlines which fly out of them. Air Passenger Duty (APD) is a mandatory tax that must be charged by airlines operating out of the UK (including NI) on a per passenger basis. APD was introduced by the UK Government on 1 November 1994.

APD is added to all short haul

journeys from Northern Ireland with prices starting from £13 per flight. There is no APD on long haul flights. The Republic of Ireland has no

aviation duty on flights. At a time when the Northern Ireland economy is only beginning to recover from the decimation caused by the pandemic the widespread consensus is that APD is doing Northern Ireland more harm than good.

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Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has urged the UK Government to scrap air passenger duty after it was cited by Ryanair in its decision to withdraw from Northern Ireland calling the tax ‘unfair’.

Pre-pandemic, in 2018, it was reported that more than a million air passengers were lost from Belfast’s main airports, with passengers opting to fly out of nearby Dublin airport where the tax was axed in 2014.

At the time the airports claimed

that APD was “like an anchor on us, pulling us back”.

The Consumer Council has previously expressed concern over APD recommending that it mirror the rate of the Republic of Ireland who do not have any air passenger tax.

They said: “A reduction in APD would ensure Northern Ireland consumers are

not disadvantaged

given their high dependence on air travel, and will ensure the region’s airports continue to deliver consumer choice.” The ability of airlines to offer competitive prices on flights from Northern Ireland has long been a major issue.

The Consumer Council said: “The current disparity between UK… and Ireland will serve to undermine the Northern Ireland aviation sector with

passengers incentivised to

travel via airports in the Republic of Ireland rather than Northern Ireland in order to save money.

“Decreased demand for air services from Northern Ireland’s airports could lead to a decline in the number of services and routes operated, reducing choice and convenience for consumers living in Northern Ireland. Furthermore, an increase in the number of Northern Ireland passengers travelling via Republic of Ireland airports rather than Northern Ireland airports will result in a loss of revenue for HM Treasury, Northern Ireland airports and the region’s economy.

“Northern Ireland’s geographic

location means consumers are more heavily reliant on air travel. Northern Ireland is unique because as part of the UK it has the highest rate of aviation duty in Europe but also has a land border with the Republic of Ireland.”

A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “Due to the UK government’s refusal to suspend or reduce APD (Air Passenger Duty), and the lack of Covid recovery incentives from both Belfast airports, this winter Ryanair will cease operations from Belfast International and Belfast City Airport from the end of the summer schedule in October.

“These aircraft will be reallocated to lower cost airports elsewhere in the UK and Europe for the winter schedule which starts in November.”

Balearics Extends FREE Covid-19 Insurance Policy Until End of 2021

THE Tourist Agency for the Balearic Islands have confirmed that its free COVID-19 insurance available for all international visitors will be extended to the end of the year (December 31st 2021).

The insurance, provided by RACE insurance, has been extended in

to hope to restore traveller

confidence and stimulate demand, especially in families, during the October half term period.

The insurance umbrellas over a wide range of cover and is free for all visitors to the Balearic islands.

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Sept/Oct 2021 Travel News Contents

3. Two New Routes from City of Derry Airport: Take a holiday to Majorca or the Algarve with Travel Solutions

4. Four New Destinations from Belfast with Jet2: Four new Winter Sun destinations added to flight and holiday programme 6. Life as an Island Hotelier: Nigel Heath catches up with hotelier Scott Fisher in St Martins 13. Straight Out of a Miss Marple Classic: Nigel Heath and walking companion Peter Gibbs tackle the Test Way 16. Book Your Cruise Holiday with Confidence - Book with a Travel Agent: Andrea McVeigh sits down for a chat with Celebrity Cruises MD, Jo Rzmowska 20. Discover a Different Side to Spain: Paty hotspots and... world heritage sites! 32-40. BIG Travel Trade Event Special: 9-page picture special from this years BIG Event and Golf Classic 42-43. NI Travel & Tourism Awards Launch: The 2021 NI Travel & Tourism Awards were launched on Day 2 of The BIG Event

News Extra

High Street Voucher Scheme CAN be Used for Telephone Bookings with Your Local Travel Agent

DUP MLA Gordon Lyons has confirmed that the voucher scheme, designed to help boost sales on the high street, can be redeemed via telephone, not just in branch. This makes it much easier for anyone looking to pay a deposit for a holiday or pay off a remaining balance with their local high street travel agent. The opening date for the scheme is not yet

final, although it has been speculated that it could be available as early as September 13. This will have to be confirmed in legislation. Anyone over the age of 18 who is a resident in Northern Ireland will be able to apply for the scheme which will arrive in the form of a £100 pre-paid card.

Up until this point it had been unclear if travel agents would be included in the high street retailer list where recipients of voucher could spend the balance of their £100 pre-paid card.

Damian Murphy, Chair of the Association of Northern Ireland Travel Agents said: “We feel it is now time for the NI Executive to market our industry better, in fact we feel they should mention us in their marketing material. “With regards to the voucher it should be able to be used to book a holiday, pay a deposit for a holiday or pay off a remaining balance of a holiday, however we feel that ideally people should be encouraged to use it to pay a deposit on a holiday for next year.”

A spokesperson for the Department of the Economy said: “It is envisaged that the scheme would run for about eight to ten weeks to finish at the end of November and any outstanding monies would be recovered from the pre-paid cards as soon as possible after the closure date and all accounts etc must be completed by the end of March.”

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