CAIRNS Airport is fully justified in its bid to stop an increase in the departure tax for visitors, the latest blow to the tourism industry from a misguided and unsupportive government, says Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch.
As reported in The Cairns Post on May 16, Cairns Airport is banding together with other international airports in Australia and tourism bodies to battle an increase in the Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) from $47 to $55 per person.
Mr Entsch said that while the amount may seem minor in terms of an overall ticket price, when combined with the effects of a cut in Customs funding and higher fees for Australian Federal Police services it is all serving to put extra pressure on the airport’s resources.
In addition, it comes at a time when the destination is focused on moving out of the slump created by the high Australian dollar, weak economic conditions and post-disaster public perception.
“This is something that was totally unexpected,” he said. “It’s the absolute worst time to be doing it when we’re trying to look at the recovery of the tourism industry.”
Mr Entsch said the Coalition will not support the tourism tax increases and budget cuts announced in last week’s budget. He added that he fully supported the Tourism and Transport Forum, which has started lobbying crossbench MPs in the House of Representatives and Green MPs in the Senate to stop the increases being passed through parliament.
“The airport’s concerns are fully justified the funding cut to customs processing is going to result in more delays at all Australian international airports, not just Cairns, and this will impact on our reputation as an enjoyable, hassle-free, tourism destination.
“It’s also very clear that the carbon tax, the increase in the PMC and the increased charges on Australian airports are going to make holidaying here significantly more expensive.”
The increase in the PMC will mean an overseas family of four will pay a total of $220 to visit Australia. By 2015/16 the government’s total PMC a tax on tourists will be as high as $1.04 billion – or around eight times the amount currently spent on marketing Australia.
“Meanwhile, the government has cut Tourism Australia’s funding by more than $6 million this year, at a time when this body should be having its funding increased, not reduced,” Mr Entsch said.
“It just shows again that this Federal Government has no understanding of the needs of Far Northern Australia.”