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Oz-Kiwi visits jeopardised

Australia’s Transport and Tourism Forum chief has apologised to New Zealanders over a Federal budget increase on departure tax

May 17, 2012

Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) CEO John Lee has apologised to New Zealand for the increase in the passenger movement charge (PMC) included in last week’s Federal budget, which he claims will see Kiwi visitors to Australia fork out an extra NZD$12.4 million in 2012-13.

Speaking at a press conference in Auckland, Lee ‘apologised’ to New Zealanders on behalf of Australia’s tourism industry for the additional impost.

“The passenger movement charge (PMC) is a tax on tourism which acts as a barrier to entry for international visitors to Australia,” Lee says.

“In that way it’s a form of tariff protection, bordering on protectionism – practices we have been trying to stamp out for many years now.”

Lee says the 17 percent increase to the PMC, which he claims is “nothing more than a departure tax” doesn’t reconcile with efforts to grow visitor numbers to Australia.

Lee calculates a New Zealand family of four who take a holiday to Australia will pay more than NZD$280 to return home to NZ.

“While we have long-standing rivalries in many areas, in this case we should be working together to grow the tourism industries on both sides of the Tasman instead of punishing the 1.2 million Kiwis who travel to Australia every year and the 1.1 million Aussies who go to New Zealand,” says Lee.

“And of course the impost is the same for Australian families heading to New Zealand for a holiday.”

Lee says the TTF has partnered with New Zealand’s Tourism Industry Association to push for streamlined border processing between Australia and New Zealand, with Anzac Express Paths at both ends and ‘mates rates’ to halve the PMC for Kiwis, with a common border as the ideal outcome.

“We don’t believe visitors to Australia should prop up government revenues when they already make a massive contribution to the Australian economy, spending billions of dollars every year and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs across Australia,” he says.

“Imposing additional cost is not the way to grow international visitation in either direction and we simply don’t believe the increase is justified.”

Lee says the PMC increase will have a negative impact on tourism in Australia’s regions, many of which are heavily reliant on tourism for economic activity and employment.

Regional charter bus and coach work revenue, for example, will most likely reduce as a consequence of the increase.

“The rise and the future indexation of the PMC to inflation will give the (Australian) government an extra $610 million over the next four years – all coming out of the pockets of tourists.”

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