Higher Fares Warning If Tobacco Allowance Cut
24th November 2017
Ticket prices could rise and services could be scrapped if States Members agree to cut the tobacco allowance for people entering the island, according to a group of travel operators and duty-free retailers.
Flybe, Condor and Manche Iles Express are among firms calling for an amendment put forward by Senator Philip Ozouf to Jersey’s 2018 Budget to be rejected.
The former Treasury Minister wants to reduce travellers’ duty-free quota from 200 cigarettes to just 40, in a move he claims will raise £1,500,000 for the States’ coffers.
But the Secretary General of the UK Travel Retail Forum, Chris Martin, says it could mean our fares rise.
“If you buy duty-free in an airport, some of the money that goes from retail spend in an airport goes to the airport – and that means that the costs which the airports in turn levy on to airline operators themselves is lessened, and then in turn the cost of tickets is cheaper as well.”
He adds: “There’s a question about how this impacts how the island is serviced – both in terms of cost of tickets and the viability of the routes that serve the island too.”
The UK Travel Retail Forum’s members include airports, airlines and duty-free retailers
Mr Martin says the “poorly thought out” amendment would mean Jersey has one of the lowest duty-free allowances in the world.
He has called for consultation with industry representatives – claiming that so far, this has not happened – and says that if States Members vote in favour of the plan, in could result in more tobacco being smuggled into Jersey.
“I think most islanders would agree that the time of Customs officials should be spent better on enforcing more serious criminal activity – whether it’s illicit trade or drugs issues – rather than making sure that tourists who are passing through the island haven’t inadvertently brought in more cigarettes than they’re allowed to,” he adds.
Credit: Jersey Airport Facebook
Explaining his motives for the amendment, Senator Ozouf says: “The 200 cigarette limit was established many decades ago.
“It was certainly before the negative effects of smoking became more widely-known and accepted.
“The current duty-free allowance therefore remains completely at odds with the health objectives set out in the Tobacco Strategy.”
He continues: “I fully accept that the Customs and Immigration Department of the Minister for Home Affairs will require additional resources in order to advertise and ensure compliance.
“I’m advised by the Treasury that this would be an appropriate use of contingency.
“The additional costs – as advised – would be in the region of £200,000 for the first year.
“After a year’s experience, further amount of contingency funding can be made available
to Customs and Immigration for 2019.”
Senator Philip Ozouf
Among his other ideas is a plan to charge bookmakers 10% corporation tax and another to make large alcohol companies pay the controversial ‘retail tax’ – which he wants set at 10% rather than 20%.
He is also calling for something to be done about islanders being charged VAT by online services such as eBay, the Apple Store and Spotify.
States Members will begin debating the 2018 Budget on Tuesday 28 November.