"Why should we be treated with such contempt and disdain by having this tax imposed, when Caribbean destinations have long fuelled the economy and rich appetites of Great Britain?"

This was the passionate claim made by Dionne Weekes, the winner of this year’s Speak-Off Competition, organised by the Ministry of Tourism and held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today.

The Queen’s College senior student was one of eight representatives from four secondary schools who gathered to debate the airline passenger duty (APD) tax which was introduced by the United Kingdom (UK) in 2009.??

The all-female line-up of competitors, who also hailed from St. James Secondary School, Combemere and Harrison College, were asked to make five-minute presentations on what solutions they would offer to the British government for a fairer application of the taxes.?? Many participants suggested the re-design of the existing band system, which applies charges to UK travellers based on the distance between Britain and the capital city of their destination.??

The current system has been described as many as unjust by many throughout the global tourism industry. Barbados, for example, is listed in band ???C’ and incurs a higher tax than other destinations, such as Hawaii or San Francisco, which are located further from the UK.?? They, however, fall under band ???B’, because the tax is calculated based on the location of the United States’ capital, Washington, D.C.

Another option was offered by Ch?? Greenidge of Harrison College, who recommended that a nominal tax rate should be applied for a finite period, during which time Barbados could develop other branches of tourism, such as sports and medical.??

The APD tax was not the only issue of the day, however, as students also had to offer their views on an impromptu topic.?? They were asked what unique feature of Barbados they would present to potential tourists. Debaters suggested local heritage. and creative arts and crafts. St. James Secondary representative, Chaneese.

Cumberbatch, suggested her neighbourhood would offer a one of a kind experience for visitors, who could have the opportunity to live the ???Bajan way’.

Overall winner Dionne Weekes’ offered this suggestion – she would feature culture in its varied froms: carnival to kaiso – ??as a drawing point, since she believes this element encompassed the essence of Barbadian life. ??Therese Branch of Harrison’s College and Kezia Henry of Queen’s College came second and third respectively.??nekaelia.hutchinson@barbados.gov.bb

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