Industry welcomes opposition to tourist taxes

Tourism Council WA has welcomed the Federal Opposition’s announcement that it will move an amendment to reduce the proposed backpacker tax to 10.5% and oppose any increase to the departure tax (Passenger Movement Charge).

The Federal Government’s $55 departure tax is already the second highest long-haul departure tax in the world and the world’s highest short-haul departure tax. The proposed increase to $60 would further impede tourism and cost jobs in WA.

Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said a reduction in the backpacker tax to 10.5% would bring Australia into line with its closest competitor for the market, New Zealand.

“By bringing Australia’s tax on backpackers into line with New Zealand, it makes us more internationally competitive and means Australia won’t lose backpackers who might otherwise travel to New Zealand,” he said.

“While the government has compromised on the backpacker tax from 32% to 19%, this rate would still result in Western Australia losing working holidaymakers it desperately needs.”

An increase to the departure tax would mean a family of four would pay $240 to visit Western Australia from overseas.

“With the growing importance of low-cost carriers, particularly from South East Asia, to the Western Australian tourism sector, such an increase would have a significant impact. For example, Scoot flies return from Singapore to Perth for $340 per person – a $60 departure tax is an outrageous 20% tax rate on an aviation service which is needed to bring tourists and create jobs in WA,” Mr Hall said.

Mr Hall said an increased departure tax and a high tax rate for working holidaymakers discriminated against Western Australia.

“Western Australia is more dependent on working holidaymakers than other States, and the State is a shorter haul destination from South East Asia,” he said.

“Increasing the PMC and imposing a high tax rate on backpackers would put Western Australia at a significant disadvantage compared with other Australian states and destinations.”

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