AFTA disappointed by a lacklustre approach to travel and tourism
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) is disappointed with the direction and lack of support that tonight’s Federal Budget has delivered for the Travel & Tourism Industry. The Government missed the opportunity to harness the future that travel and tourism offers to the Australian economy for now and in the future.
At a time when the rest of the world is embracing travel and tourism and looking to grow their economies and visitor numbers, this government has missed the flight to success.
As the Australian Economy moves from resources to tourism as a key pillar and when a country like Australia has the natural asset of a clean, fresh, sophisticated and jobs filled industry on its door step like Travel & Tourism, you have to wonder what the masters of the Australian budget process were thinking – perhaps not thinking.
“It is disappointing that once again the travel and tourism industry is asked to pay significant taxes but appears to not have any significant support coming back to it. This government appears to think that the travel & tourism should be the door mat to the Australian economic future. It is simply not good enough and we as an industry we should expect more.” Said Jayson Westbury, AFTA Chief Executive.
“The Global travel and tourism industry is a competitive market place and when cuts like the ones announced tonight to the Tourism Australian budget and increases to taxes on employer needing staff to fill shortages not wanted by Australians, it is yet another blow to the industry. If the government is serious about delivering jobs to
Australians in the future, then the travel and tourism industry is ready to help, but clearly the government does not want to help the industry” said Westbury.
The 2017 Federal budget has including the following news for the travel and tourism industry.
- This Budget introduces a big new tax, this new tax will raise $1.2bn (over 4 years) from employers who employ foreign workers on skilled visas.
- Many small and medium-sized tourism businesses face critical skills shortages. Their customer needs require them to employ foreign workers who have those specialised skills. These workers are covered by Temporary Skill Shortage visas.
- It is a harsh impost to require a small tourism business (with less than $10m turnover per year) to make an upfront payment of $1,200 per visa per year for each employee on such a visa.
Extracting revenue from travellers and visitors
- The government loves extracting revenue from travellers and international visitors. The net Budget changes for visa charges will extract half a billion dollars from incoming travellers and visitors over the next 8 years. This is $270m extracted over the Forward Estimates.
- $225m net additional revenue from indexation of visa application charges (net of additional expenditure on worthy visa processing reforms); and
- $47m additional visa charges for the new Temporary Skill Shortage visa (which replaces the 457).
Tourism Australian funding
- Tourism Australia will continue to suffer from a lack of indexation of base government funding and in real terms the federal budget has taken $35million out of their budget over the next four years.
Lost opportunities – Tourism Shopping Reform
- The government refuses to make a decision on long-overdue reform of Australia’s tourism shopping system.
- The clunky, paper-based GST refund system for departing travellers iscrying out for reform.
- The government champions innovation and new digital approaches in other areas, but not for tourism shopping, it seems.
- Other measures announced tonight will be further reviewed over the coming days and impacts on the travel industry will be further considered as the full gamut of the budget papers are considered.
“As federal budgets go, this is an unwelcomed, tasteless budget for the travel and tourism industry as it increases costs for tourism businesses but delivers very little for those on the ground working 24/7 keeping the doors open, people employed and making Australia the great nation that it is.” concluded Westbury.