Tourism lobby hits budget over customs cuts, fee hikes

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 16, 2012
The federal budget will cut funding for customs and border protection while raising fees for international travel, an industry group says.

A tourism and transport industry group says changes in the federal budget will cut funding for customs and airport policing despite forecasts of a substantial increase in the number of international passengers traveling to Australia.

The budget also increases government charges on international flights, the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) says.

“While passenger facilitation is an essential part of national security, it is also a critical experience for international visitors,” TTF CEO John Lee said. “We will be saying to our overseas guests, ‘Welcome to Australia, please queue up over there for up to an hour while we decide if you can come in.’”

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According to the TTF’s analysis, funding for passenger facilitation and processing under the Customs and Border Protection Services budget will fall by $6 million to $212 million for 2012-13, a drop of about 2.7 per cent. Funding will rise to $217 million in 2014-15 and $219 million the following year.

Passenger Movement Charges, applied to passengers departing Australia on an international flight, are meanwhile slated to increase from $47 to $55 on July 1, raising an estimated $85 million in additional revenue next financial year.

Those changes come as international passenger movements are forecasted to reach 38 million in 2015-16, up from 30 million this year. That means that total revenues from the passenger movement charges alone will reach $3.7 billion over the next four years, the TTF says.

“It is extraordinary to think that international passenger movements will rise by 27 per cent over the next four years…while funding for passenger facilitation will remain stagnant,” Lee said.

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