Hopes UK move will lift tourism

The New Zealand tourism industry hopes the decision by the British Government to cut air passenger duty on long-haul flights will encourage more visitors from the United Kingdom.

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced tax on long-haul flights to New Zealand would be cut from April 1 next year, resulting in a 26 ($NZ50) cut per passenger, or for a family of four, 104 ($NZ201).

In a joint submission made to the British Treasury in 2011, the Tourism Industry Association, the Tourism Export Council, the New Zealand Airports Association and the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand argued the duty, combined with other air travel taxes, was a strong disincentive for UK visitors to travel down under.

Passengers travelling to long-haul destinations such as New Zealand and Australia have been paying nearly 10 times more duty than short-haul European destinations, association chief executive Martin Snedden said.

''The UK is currently New Zealand's fourth-largest visitor market in terms of arrivals (191,632) and third-largest in terms of spend ($608 million),'' Mr Snedden said.

''In 2008, just before the duty was increased significantly and as the global financial crisis was beginning to impact, the UK was our second-largest market by arrivals (285,094) and spend ($1.32 billion).''