The Federal Government has ignored calls from the tourism industry for a freeze on the Passenger Movement Charge (PMC), hiking the departure tax by $10 in the May Budget.
From 1 July, 2024, the PMC – which has been set at $60 per passenger since 2017 – will be increased to $70 despite tourism peaks warning that it could hamper the sector’s post-COVID recovery.
Margy Osmond, CEO of the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) Australia, has again urged the Government to freeze the PMC for five years, saying the sector employs more than one million people around Australia.
“This will make it even more difficult for tourism to bounce back, as cost-of-living pressures increase and as the industry rebuilds from the devastating impacts of the Covid pandemic,” she said.
“It will also make it more expensive for international tourists to come to Australia, at a time when we’re desperately trying to attract more visitors, with Australia’s international tourism levels still below pre-Covid levels.
“However, we are pleased the government has listened to industry and used real common sense by not introducing the increase until the 1st of July, 2024 to enable the aviation sector to adequately prepare for the implementation of the increase.”
Osmond also called for more transparency around the allocation of money raised through the PMC, which is added to the fare prices of international tickets departing Australia and goes to fund activities like biosecurity, immigration and customs enforcement.
“In the three years prior to the pandemic, the PMC collected on average $811 million more than the funds dedicated to border processing measures.
“Rather than disappearing into the government bottom line, this extra funding could be put towards stronger and more innovative biosecurity outcomes for the Australian border.”
The Passenger Movement Charge was last increased from $55 per person to $60 per person in 2017, a move which Prime Minister Albanese had spoken against as Shadow Tourism Minister. No reason was given at the time for the increase.
“The increase in the Passenger Movement Charge has real consequences for tourism and will have jobs impacts in the tourism industry, which employs a million Australians, is Australia’s largest services export and has been nominated as one of Australia’s five super growth sectors,” he told Parliament in 2016.
In a statement, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said the PMC increase would fund stronger biosecurity measures.
“To address risks from travellers and parcels, funding from an increase to the Passenger Movement Charge will contribute to the cost of biosecurity, and we will expand cost recovery to include the biosecurity clearance of parcels and non-letter mail,” he said.