Time for parties to act on passenger tax, says tourism chief

Cade Mooney

IT IS time for both major parties to do something about the "total revenue grab" of successive rises in a tax laid on international visitors to Australia, a tourism forum has heard.

The passenger movement charge is paid by tourists as they leave the country, and was originally created to cover the costs of processing visitors and other Customs-related costs.

But Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Ken Morrison said a series of rises in the charge, under both Labor and Coalition governments, was pushing short-haul visitors away from Australia.

He said the majority of the revenue the charge raised last fiscal year - about $1 billion - was not spent on tourism or border-related costs, and instead was directed to consolidated revenue.

"It is a total revenue grab, and we haven't heard from either party what they plan to do about it," Mr Morrison said.

"Only a quarter of the $1 billion raised actually went to tourism, so clearly it is not needed to be as high as it is, or it should be directed to where it's needed."

Mr Morrison said the industry was calling for a Productivity Commission review of the charge, in a bid to ensure it was spent where it was needed, and to prevent further impact on short haul visitors.

But he said neither major party had announced any tourism-specific policies.

It is understood neither major party is considering any changes to the charge, or where the revenue raised is directed, under current policies.

Topics:  government taxes tourism

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