Backpacker tax would devastate regional WA tourism

17 March 2016

The introduction of the proposed “backpacker tax” on July 1 would seriously damage WA tourism, especially in regional areas, according to Tourism Council WA.

The Federal Government announced in its 2015 Budget that starting July 1 this year it would eliminate the normal tax-free threshold and impose a 32.5 per cent tax on working holiday makers on the first $18,200 they earn in Australia.

Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said currently 38,000 visitors with Working Holiday Maker visas come to Western Australia each year for a working holiday. These visitors stay an average of 121 days and spend an estimated $265 million in the State.

“If backpackers start to stay away from Australia because of the backpacker tax, it will have a devastating impact on regional tourism,” he said

“Each working holiday maker stays an average of four months travelling and working across Western Australia.

“Backpackers are critical to regional tourism destinations as both tourists and workers.

“Many regional resorts and tours couldn’t operate in peak seasons without backpacker staff, and regional agriculture is also heavily dependent on backpackers during harvest periods.

“Introducing the tax would make Western Australia, and Australia in general, far less competitive as a destination for the backpacker workforce and would leave many businesses without options for their labour force.”

Mr Hall said he welcomed the announcement that Federal Tourism Minister Senator Richard Colbeck would lead a review of the introduction of the tax.

 “I call on all Federal Western Australian Members of Parliament to make it clear during this review period that this proposed taxation measure would be seriously damaging to WA’s economy and ask that they oppose it strongly,” he said.

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