The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), is extremely disappointed the Government will push ahead with its decision to raise taxes on backpacker visitors, who will now pay a marginal tax rate of 32.5% from their first dollar earned, further encouraging them to take their holiday in New Zealand.
“This budget locks in a tax which will deliver a negative result for Australia’s tourism industry and which will drive our backpacker visitors into the arms of our New Zealand competitors,” ATEC Managing Director, Peter Shelley said following today’s Federal Budget release.
“Over the past few months ATEC has worked alongside other concerned industry representatives to find alternative solutions to this tax, and we met the Government’s deadlines and demands to work with them on a negotiated outcome.
“Tonight we have had no alternative proposal and, instead, face a further decline in the number of working holiday maker visitors compounding an already apparent labour shortage for tourism businesses in regional and remote Australia.
“Australia’s tourism industry will not stand by and watch as the Turnbull Government introduces a tax that sends out a message that working holiday makers are not welcome – a message that is in stark contrast to the growth-focused approach taken by New Zealand.
“This is an issue which will not go away and one we will be pushing hard during the upcoming election.”
Mr Shelley said innovations in visa processing, including new user-pays, fast-tracked visas for India and the UAE, along with three-year multiple entry visas for India, Thailand, Vietnam and Chile were welcome.
“ATEC is pleased to see the Government has heeded industry’s advice and retained visa fees, and the Passenger Movement Charge at current levels and also provided premium processing at airports which will help to us to engage the international luxury market.
“We welcome the support of Trade Minister Ciobo in working to retain the Government’s funding commitment to Tourism Australia, which will help to keep Australia competitive in what is an increasingly aggressive market.”
“With our overall tourism exports achieving extraordinary rates of growth and contributing significantly to our export income, we need to be embracing and strengthening the opportunities offered by Australia’s export tourism industry.
“With outstanding results such as an 8% year-on-year increase in international visitor numbers, 18% growth in expenditure and a forecast to reach export earnings of more than $42 billion a year in the next 5 years, we should be doing all we can to build on all our market segments.
“While Australia is a highly desirable destination for international visitors, the enormous global growth in travel means we face stronger competition from an increasing number of countries who see the economic value of gaining a greater share of the market.”