Travel tax most people don’t know about

 

TOURISM and aviation bosses have called for an overhaul of a little-known tax charged to every international passenger leaving Australia that reaped more than $1.1 billion last year.

The $60 Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) is added to every ticket of outbound international travellers but sector leaders say the tax, which most travellers don't even know exists, hurts the tourism industry.

They have called for it to be scrapped or spent directly on promoting Australia and improving border services.

Queensland Airports CEO Chris Mills said the airline industry had raised the issue "again and again" as a priority because it directly impacted visitor numbers to Australia.

"Currently the tax works as a deterrent to overseas visitors who compare Australia to its competitor destinations and find that we are more expensive," he said.

"If the PMC was reduced for some of these key, short routes, or it was scrapped entirely, it would have a direct benefit for tourism in Australia."

Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said the charge, which replaced the departure tax in 1995, was originally set up to fund specific customs and immigration activities.

Mr Gschwind said the money was now dumped into consolidated revenue with no direct benefit for travellers or the industry.

"It would make sense to allocate a share of the passenger movement charge for the purpose of tourism promotion and other things," he said.

A Nielsen survey for the Transport and Tourism Forum found 79 per cent of travellers did not know they had to make the compulsory payment.

And 86 per cent of Queenslanders said it was concerning that none of the funds went directly back to paying for border processing services at airports.

An Australia Border Force spokesman did not answer a written question asking if there were any plans to direct PMC funds directly to tourism or travel projects.

He said $1.134 billion was collected nationally from the charge in 2017-18 but could not break down the figure any further.

About four million passengers departed Queensland's major international airports last year, which would have delivered at least $240 million to the haul.

Children younger than 12, transit passengers and crew members are exempt from the charge.

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