Ashes fans hit by three million pound air tax

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London, Aug.9 (ANI): Cricket fans travelling to future Ashes series are to be hit with a three million pound stealth tax, the Sunday Express reports.

Anyone travelling to the next Ashes series in Australia will face an 85-pound bill for Air Passenger Duty in economy, rising to 170 pound in business class. More than 35,000 Australian fans were expected to travel to Britain for the Ashes series this year. If the Government's plans go ahead such numbers would raise three million pounds in tax.

A new poll conducted in Australia found that 50 per cent of people would reconsider coming if the rise is implemented. The financial impact on England's "Barmy Army" fans is expected to be even greater as they travel to Australia in larger numbers.

Brian Wilson, chair- man of the aviation lobby group Flying Matters, said British Government ministers appeared not to have thought through the potential impact of the changes on major events such as the Ashes and the Olympics.

"They will have a direct impact on the number of visitors coming to the UK at a time when we are relying on tourism to cushion us from the worst effects of the recession. The Government is keen to ensure the UK hosts world class sporting events. If they push ahead with these tax rises, visitors will think twice about coming here and the jobs which would have been created will shrink accordingly," Wilson said.

Australian fans are expected to spend an average of 2,000 pounds during their stay, generating a total of 70 million pounds. If their numbers were to fall by just five per cent, the loss to the economy would more than outweigh the increase in tax revenues.

APD was introduced in 1994. In recent years Labour has increasingly seen it as a cash cow and it now raises two billion pounds a year for the Treasury.

Chancellor Alistair Darling's new increases will be introduced in two stages, beginning in November. (ANI)

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