Friday, October 23, 2015

JetBlue makes case for an environmentally friendly, low tax Caribbean

The head of a major airline that will begin flying to Antigua next month is seeking to make the case for investment in environmental conservation. President and Chief Executive Officer of JetBlue Airways Robin Hayes said governments need to see value in the upkeep of the natural surroundings.

“Too often around the world, countries fail to see the link between cleaning up beaches and oceans and their economic vitality. No one benefits when oceans and beaches are polluted, yet these problems persist around the world,” he told the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s 2015 State of the Industry Conference underway in CuraƧao from 21st to 23rd October.

A recent partnership between JetBlue and The Ocean Foundation has set out to, once and for all, prove the connection, and Hayes said the Caribbean region is in that assessment.

“Nothing spurs governments or business to act like hard data, but until now, we haven’t really had anything that we can use. I’d like to add that the concept of the original idea of who is an eco-tourist is outdated…. Every single person, who comes to the Caribbean for its beautiful water and white beaches is an eco-tourist,” is Hayes’ take on the matter.

Meanwhile, Hayes wants Caribbean countries to review taxes on airline tickets.

“There’s a wide range of passenger tax regimes across the region. I will encourage all of you who have influence in this sphere to carefully consider how those taxes are levied and use this operation sparingly.

“At JetBlue, we are thinking very much about the relative tax burden on our customers as we allocate capacity,” he informed the meeting adding that lower taxes can benefit the economy.

“Travellers can easily be hit with an extra US$150 on top of their air fare, and that could equate to an extra hotel night or an extra night’s stay. Contrast that to the average JetBlue fare for the first 6 months of the year of US$171. We would rather customers have more money in their pockets to spend when they arrive in their communities, extend their stays, take an additional meal out than just pay tax,” he challenged government revenue regulators.

In June 2015, JetBlue Airways started offering tickets for its nonstop service between New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport, making St John’s the 92nd city to be added to the budget airline’s list of destinations. The first flight will be on 5th November. It will be part of the new thrice-weekly service – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

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