There’s good reason why Australians don’t complain about the government charging them AUD 55 every time they leave Australia on an international flight or cruise.
Most travellers have no idea it is going on. Instead of being charged upfront, the tax is cunningly concealed in tickets, forcing airlines or cruise lines to collect it.
A new survey of more than 1000 Australians reveals that more than 85% are unaware they are paying a AUD 55 departure tax every time they leave Australia. Not only are they paying it, but political parties are refusing to pledge that they won’t raise it.
More than 80% of voters say Australia’s hidden AUD 1 billion departure tax should be slashed or invested directly into the tourism industry to support economic growth and more jobs, according to a survey commissioned by the Tourism and Transport Forum Australia (TTF).
Currently, most of the departure tax (or Passenger Movement Charge, to give its grandiose official title) goes straight into the government’s coffers. The tax hits more than 20 million Australians and international visitors travelling overseas through Australian airports and seaports every year.
Although the tax is expected to raise close to AUD 1 billion in revenue in the next financial year, only AUD 250 million is actually spent on processing passengers, with the remaining AUD 750 million absorbed by the government.
“The Passenger Movement Charge is a hidden holiday tax on every Australian and overseas visitor travelling through our international gateways and does nothing to support the growth of the industry and creation of more jobs,” TTF chief executive, Margy Osmond, declares.
“Tourism has been identified as a super-growth sector of the future but the hidden holiday tax continues to be a handbrake on the industry expected to raise AUD 1 billion from travellers in the next financial year.”
Nearly 40% of voters said political parties must outline their plans for the holiday tax during the election campaign. A bipartisan three-year freeze on the charge will end after the election and TTF is calling for all parties to commit to continuing the freeze for the next term of Parliament.
“Political parties cannot run dead on this issue during the election campaign – they must spell out their plans for this hidden holiday tax on travellers. This is their chance to announce they will continue to freeze the PMC at the current rate and commit to reducing the cost of this hidden tax over the longer term,” Osmond said.
More than a third of people (36.4%) said political parties should commit to reducing the cost of travelling to and from Australia, while a quarter (25.1%) said they would support a political party that commits to not increasing the departure tax.
Only 13% of voters said the government should be allowed to spend the departure tax revenue however it saw fit – which is the situation that prevails at present.
Written by Peter Needham