• Tue. May 9th, 2023

Tourism chiefs plead $60 Passenger Movement Charge not be increased

Leaders in the Australian tourism sector are pleading with the Government to not increase the fee it charges travellers heading overseas.

The Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) is a $60 fee collected by the Australian Government to offset the cost of processes like customs and immigration at our borders.

Most travellers are likely to be unfamiliar with the fee as you pay as part of the price of your international airfare and then the airline passes it on to the Government. The same goes for passengers on cruises.

Some people are exempt from the fee, including crew members and children under 12. The charge does not change based on your distance of travel.

The Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF), the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), and the Australian Airports Association (AAA) want a five-year freeze on the $60 charge and have written to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to not follow through on any plans to increase the charge in Tuesday’s federal budget.

The chief executives of the tourism groups said Australia’s current PMC is among the highest in the world and told Mr Albanese in their letter that an increase “would be detrimental to our sector recovery” following the pandemic.

Margy Osmond, chief executive of the TTF, said in a statement that without a five-year freeze, jobs in the industry were at risk.

“The tourism sector is still struggling to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, international tourism levels in Australia still haven’t recovered, so any increase to the PMC would be a major setback,” she said.

AAA chief executive James Goodwin agreed.

“We need the Government to prioritise supporting our industry’s recovery and not tax it even more,” he said.

AFTA chief executive Dean Long said Australia’s PMC was the second highest travel and tourism tax in the world.

“The reality is an increased PMC means more expensive airfares and overseas holidays for Australians already struggling with cost of living pressures,” he said.

The PMC was established in 1995, set at $27. It replaced the Departure Tax, which was introduced in 1978 at $10. That tax was increased in 1981 but then reduced to $10 again in 1988 to stimulate the tourism industry before it was increased again.

In their letter to Mr Albanese, Ms Osmond, Mr Goodwin and Mr Long said it was their understanding from informal advice that the Government was looking to increase the PMC in the upcoming budget.

The Government declined to say whether the PMC was set to increase when asked by The Daily Telegraph.

“There’s always speculation the week before the budget, some of it accurate and some of it not – it will be made clear on budget night,” a spokeswoman for Treasurer Jim Chalmers told the publication.

News.com.au has also contacted Mr Chalmers’ office for comment.

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