New co-chair appointed to tourism shopping reform group

Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the Australian Retailers Association, has joined Margy Osmond, Chief Executive Officer of Tourism & Transport Forum Australia, as Co-Chair of the Tourism Shopping Reform Group (TSRG), to help increase awareness of the economic benefits of retail tourism.

The TSRG is pressing for reform of Australia’s Tourist Shopping Refund Scheme, through which all passengers departing Australia can claim a refund of the Goods and Services Tax or Wine Equalisation Tax which they have paid on items they are exporting.

The Tourist Shopping Refund Scheme returns are currently processed by the Australian Border Force. But the TSRG says transfer of the program to specialist refund providers would result in a $226 million benefit to the Australian economy, and up to 18,000 more visitors per years, by driving new product development for tourists and insource country destination marketing of the retail offer in Australia.

Ms Osmond welcomed Mr Zimmerman as Co-Chair of the TSRG, and acknowledged the contribution of the previous Co-Chair, Jayson Westbury, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents.

“Tourism and shopping go hand in hand,” Ms Osmond said. “The changes proposed by the TSRG can significantly boost the Australian economy by driving increased shopping by international travellers, while also freeing Australian Border Force officers to perform critical security and quarantine tasks. These are great outcomes and compelling reasons for change.”

Mr Zimmerman said his appointment as Co-Chair of the TSRG was both timely and a natural fit for retailers.

“We have seen consistent figures on retail spending and patterns, and tourist expenditure is strong,” he said. “The Tourist Shopping Refund Scheme, if run more efficiently, offers great growth opportunities for retailers and a solid boost to the Australian economy. It also makes Australia more competitive as a tourist shopping destination.”

Mr Zimmerman said transfer of the Tourist Shopping Refund Scheme to specialist refund providers would also deliver modern digital systems to process payments and tax refunds, resulting in significant tax compliance benefits and cost savings to the Federal Government.