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The International Writers Magazine: Comment

How big a stake does the tax man have in your holiday savings?
• Emily Gach
Everyone knows that a truly great holiday rarely comes cheap and if you are leaving the UK for sunshine abroad the costs can quickly begin to mount up. Once you start totalling in sun-cream, the mandatory pair of duty free sunglasses and the other holiday “essentials” then no matter how good a deal you got at your local travel agent your total spend might have ballooned past your holiday budget before you even leave the UK.

The bright side is that these extra costs are tangible, things that you can hold and use and own, but when it comes to air passenger duty, ticket taxes and other airport charges you may find yourself out of pocket with very little to show for your expenditure. However, with some smart planning and a little bit of research you could potential save yourself hundreds of pounds on your next holiday by ensuring the air taxes you pay are as low as possible.

One of these taxes is Air Passenger Duty, the brainchild of UK politician Kenneth Clarke. This tax was introduced in 1997 and has since rocketed from its initially low rate of £5-£10 to a mind blowing £188 for some of the most long haul flights, making the UK the second most expensive country to fly from on earth. Although this controversial tax has been widely criticised for its impact on developing countries and its debatable positive impact on the environment, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer has confirmed he has no plans to do anything but continue to increase the tax yearly until 2016. Interestingly, UK flyers pay only 75% of the amount the citizens of failed African state Chad would be expected to pay, who have robbed the UK of the number one spot despite 80% of their population living below the poverty line.

With the above in mind it is clear that air travel taxes can have a huge impact on the cost of your foreign holiday, so here is a list of the top five countries with the lowest air travel charges in the world and some of the exciting things you could expect to experience if you visit these destinations.

1. Swaziland
Swazi In the heart of southern Africa lies Swaziland, a tiny country with a great number of attractions, and its zero tax rate for international flights is definitely one of them. As the continents premier destination for rhino safaris and exotic bird watching it offers everything you would expect from an African holiday. For those of us less in tune with nature Swaziland offers many adventure activities including white water rafting and caving and is also the unlikely host of several major modern shopping centers which offer everything you would expect from a 21st century mall as well as traditional hand crafted items from around Africa. With the construction of a new major international airport nearing completion, you can expect to see Swaziland becoming a mainstream tourist destination soon.
3. Luxembourg
Lux Luxembourg perfectly merges the contemporary and the classic in a way that is sure to please family members at both extremes of the age spectrum. With a large roster of modern music festivals and events, awe inspiring architecture and a rich heritage, Luxembourg makes for an affordable but enjoyable family holiday.
4. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Offering some of the most stunning white sand and crystal clear waters the North American continent has to offer, Puerto Rico is the obvious choice for those looking for a majestic beach holiday on a budget. Visitors can also expect to be able to explore areas of pristine rainforest and experience thrilling excursion activities like kayaking, zip lining and even hang-gliding!

2. Iran
Iran Although this may not seem like an obvious holiday destination, Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation reported that over 1 million foreign tourists visited the country in the first three months of the Iranian new year, an increase of 30% compared to last year. With some outstanding areas of natural beauty, a huge selection of historical architecture and the second lowest air travel charges in the world, although not the obvious choice, Iran may be well worth a visit.
5. Cape Verde
Cape Verde The recent construction of an international airport connecting the scattered west African islands of Cape Verde to the UK has created an up-and-coming tourism industry in the area. Cape Verde is ideal for those seeking a less commercial experience, as the whole island is truly reminiscent of the untouched Caribbean islands of times gone by.

Tax ratesUK

At the other end of the spectrum are the most expensive parts of the world to fly to in terms of ticket taxes. Popular destinations such as Australia, Canada, Peru, the United States and Mali all appear in the top 20, as well as more obscure destinations like Armenia and Senegal, so these are definitely destinations to avoid if you want your budget to stretch as far as it possibly can. A notable absence from the top twenty is France, whose citizens enjoy paying almost half as much ticket tax and airport charges as travellers in the UK. With this in mind, as well as the ever declining cost of catching the Eurostar and Paris's multiple international Airports, it may be worth researching the cost of your flights leaving from Paris compared to flights leaving from the UK. If the saving you make on French flights is more than the cost of travel to London and tickets for the Eurostar, its quite possible that spending the day exploring Paris before you jet off somewhere further afield might actually save you money.
Book Your Vacation here
© Emily Gach July 2013

All data and information in the article have been provided by Cosford Caravans.

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