Published on : Monday, December 12, 2016
The Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) has seized on the latest overseas visitor figures released today to call on the Federal Government to rule out any further increases in taxes and fees on travellers in next week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).
In the last week of sitting for the Federal Parliament, the Federal Government introduced a 15 per cent backpacker tax on working holiday makers and increased the holiday tax – the Passenger Movement Charge –to $60 on Australian and international travellers leaving the country.
The latest ABS Overseas Arrivals figures released today confirm that 8.1 million people travelled to Australia over the 12 months to October 2016 – up 11.5 per cent on the previous year.
Country of Origin Arrivals (12mths to October 16) Increase/Decrease
“The tourism and transport industries are already contributing billions of dollars to the budget bottom-line with the new backpacker tax and a nine per cent hike in the holiday tax – the Passenger Movement Charge – there is no justification at all for MYEFO to contain any extra costs for travellers,” said Margy Osmond, TTF CEO.
“TTF fought a hard campaign to come up with a workable compromise on the backpacker tax and secure a five year freeze on any further increases in the holiday tax and we will fight any tax hikes on travellers in MYEFO.
“Tourism is a super-growth sector for the Australian economy and the Federal Government should rule out any plans to undermine it reaching its full potential by increasing taxes and charges on travellers in MYEFO.
“Tourism continues to grow strongly – and faster than the national average – at a time when other industries are struggling. That needs to be recognised and rewarded with an investment and growth strategy not penalised.
“The TTF Tourism Atlas released less than a month ago shows that there are an average of 3,870 tourism jobs in every single Federal electorate across Australia. That means that anti-tourism policies have a real impact on the jobs of thousands of Australians.
“With Australia’s two speed economy, it’s more important than ever to have our overseas visitors explore our regions and take the time to stay and spend locally. Treating the industry as a ‘cash cow’ will hurt our regions the most.
“The latest international visitor figures show what is at stake if we continue to add to the cost of travel to Australia and drive away visitors to other destinations. The global tourism industry is becoming increasingly cut-throat in its competitiveness and we should be cutting the cost of travel to Australia – a long-haul destination – not increasing fees and charges on visas and passenger facilitation.”
Ms Osmond said China was on track to overtake New Zealand as our largest visitor market sometime in the middle of 2017 but, with more than 200 million Chinese expected to be travelling by 2020, Australia’s market share was actually shrinking to less than one per cent.
“Australia is on the doorstep of the largest visitor market in the world – eight out of 10 of our largest visitor markets are located in the Asia-Pacific and many are growing at double digit rates.
“But proximity is no guarantee that these millions of new travellers will come to Australia by default. We need to aggressively target these markets and implement a positive policy agenda that reduces the cost of travel to Australia because that is what our competitors in the Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe are doing.
“We have an exciting year ahead of us for the tourism and transport sectors. We would encourage the Federal Government to stop viewing the industry as a ‘cash cow’ and instead work with us to ensure that we can support the economic growth and the creation of thousands of new jobs we need for the future.”