Brexit only further cements the need for Scotland to make an international statement of intent – showing we are a business friendly nation.
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- Brexit only further cements the need for Scotland to make an international statement of intent – showing we are a business friendly nation.
There are two fundamental gains of reducing Air Passenger Duty.
A reduction in the price of air travel makes holidays more accessible - as a meaningful change that has the most impact for low income hard working Scots and will attract more tourists from existing connections to come here.
But the big driver for Scotland’s economy is encouraging further international connectivity, which involves new direct routes and new airlines – and a huge increase in the number of inbound passengers.
Independent evidence shows the value of a swift and substantial cut to APD would be 10,000 extra jobs and £300 million in gross value added to Scotland’s economy.
Europe is fertile ground for inbound tourism for Scotland. While we have grown our connectivity in recent years, there are still many more areas of Europe that we can connect for the first time.
If we make Scotland accessible and affordable for inbound visitors - we will see a large increase in their number.
Every single long-haul route and most of the short haul international routes that have arrived at Edinburgh Airport over the past four years have seen a majority of inbound passengers over outbound passengers.
There is a curious view that aviation is successful enough already. But the truth is we got back to the 2008 level of passenger numbers across Scotland only last year.
Although Edinburgh is in the lucky position of having a strong economy that is growing well, the same cannot be said for many other airports in Scotland.
EasyJet’s Edinburgh - Hamburg route as an example of the real gains of new direct routes.
Hamburg was inconvenient to get to because people had to go via one of the hub airports. When the direct route opened up, travel between the Hamburg area and Scotland increased tenfold— and the vast majority of that travel was Germans coming to Scotland.
More recently Norwegian started a new summer only service to Barcelona in June 2016.
Barcelona is also served by Ryanair and Vueling and yet the overall 89% of these increased seats are filled. The majority of those travelling on this service have a Spanish or Portuguese passport.
We should let the economy speak. Cutting APD is a winning agenda, which is why business leaders have backed it at committee meetings at the Scottish Parliament this week.
The winning agenda is not defined by Edinburgh or any other individual airport; it is the Scottish economy, the Scottish tourism sector and even the education sector—which is one of the largest drivers of passengers to Scotland, and involves importing and exporting great people and amazing research and ideas and related goods and services which help Scotland shine on the global stage.
The Brexit dimension only further cements the need for Scotland to make an international statement of intent – showing that we are outward looking, welcoming and a business friendly nation.
Narrow and polarised views must not distract us from the prize that waits from reducing APD.
In Scotland we have a great offering and a strong market - now we must create the policy conditions that will allow it to flourish.
The proposal to cut APD is one of the best investments you will ever see. It is not a tax cut or giveaway, but it is a huge investment for Scotland.