A survey undertaken by Monash University and YHA, the hostel group, indicates that the number of working holidaymakers coming to Australia could nosedive by 60% if the government insists on pushing through its short-sighted ‘backpacker tax’.
The 32.5% backpacker tax would put Australia in a deeply uncompetitive position with New Zealand for young holidaymakers, who are a valuable source of tourism dollars and labour for Australia. Many backpackers may skip Australia entirely.
Despite intense industry lobbying against the tax, the Turnbull government has refused to rule it out.
Now the industry has more ammunition, in the form a quantitative study of 335 international working holidaymakers in Cairns, Port Douglas and Melbourne, undertaken by Dr Jeff Jarvis of Monash University between May and June.
Responding to the survey, 57% of working holidaymakers said they would spend less time travelling in Australia and 69% said they would spend less on tours.
Following release of the survey, the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) has renewed its call for the Federal Government to abandon its 32.5% backpacker tax.
“If the Federal Government persists with its ill-considered plan to slug every working holiday maker with a 32.5% backpacker tax on every dollar they earn while in Australia this survey shows we will face a 60% exodus to other destinations like New Zealand,” said TTF chief executive Margy Osmond.
“These results have come straight from the horse’s mouth – working holidaymakers have sent a clear message to the Federal Government, “treat us like a cash cow and we are out of here!”
“Working holiday makers are a boon for the Australian visitor economy. They spend far more than they earn while visiting Australia and many regional and rural economies depend on their spending.
“Australia is in a global competitive market to attract working holiday makers who can choose from the entire world for their holiday. We need to have a tax system that recognises the value of attracting working holidaymakers to Australia.
“The message to the Federal Government’s working holiday maker visa review could not be clearer – just scrap the tax and work with the industry to repair the damage that has already been done with working holidaymakers already in decline.”
Edited by Peter Needham