In a major show of support for tourism industry, the Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb announced on Friday that the Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) on travellers will be frozen for the next three years.
Robb, who is the federal Cabinet minister responsible for tourism, made the announcement while chairing a meeting of Australia's tourism ministers in Canberra on Friday.
Robb said the previous Labor government raised the PMC twice without warning by a total of 45 percent, which hit tourists travelling to Australia with an extra tax burden. The Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) was introduced in July 1995 and is imposed in respect of the departure of a person from Australia for another country. The current rate of the PMC is 55 AU dollars (52 U.S. dollars) after an eight dollar (7.58 U.S. dollars) increase by the government in 2012. The charge, which is built into fares, is second to the UK's infamous Air Passenger Duty on long-haul flights but is almost three times the cost of the British tax on flights shorter than 3220 km.
"Australia's tourism industry is one of our country's great strengths. It is our largest services export industry, with international visitor consumption of 26 billion AU dollars (24.6 billion U.S. dollars) which represented more than 8 percent of total Australian exports in 2011-12," Robb said.
He lashed out on Labor government's decision to increase the PMC and tourist visa charges, saying that fee increase is "an easy way to raise revenue" but it may also has "undermining effect on the competitiveness of our tourism sector."
Freezing the PMC will make Australia a more competitive tourist destination for international travellers which will help to grow the Australian industry. It will also help the industry to reach the Tourism 2020 potential of doubling overnight visitor expenditure to between 115 billion (108.9 billion U.S. dollars) and 140 billion (132.6 billion U.S. dollars) by 2020.