Tourism industry relieved as common sense prevails on backpacker tax

The Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) has welcomed the end of the 18-month backpacker tax saga with the passing of laws setting the rate at 15 per cent from 1 January 2017.

TTF has been vocal advocate for zero or at the very least a much lower backpacker tax rate than the original 32.5 per cent proposed to ensure that working holiday makers continue to visit Australia, spend their money in regional and rural communities and fill critical job shortages in those areas.

TTF has also worked to achieve a compromise on the increase in the holiday tax – the Passenger Movement Charge –with an agreement reached by the Parliament to freeze any future increases for the next five years.

“This has been a long, hard slog by the tourism industry over the past 18 months to reach this common sense compromise on the backpacker tax and we are very pleased that the matter is finally resolved so that we can get on with the job of growing the visitor economy,” said Margy Osmond, TTF CEO.

“There are a lot of lessons to be learnt out of this issue. Consultation and negotiation with industry early on is the key to delivering a policy outcome that supports the industry and allows the Government to achieve its goals.

‘The tourism industry has made it very clear that we will not sit back and be treated as a ‘cash cow’ by any Government or any political party. We have a voice and it is growing in strength in the new economy that will support Australia’s future.”

Ms Osmond said that the final decision on the backpacker tax would allow the industry to get back to promoting Australia as a fantastic destination for a working holiday.

“For the last 18 months, the industry has not been able to provide certainty to backpackers on what tax arrangements they would face if they decided to travel to Australia, now we can.

“The backpacker tax saga is a powerful reminder that government decisions have a real world impact and we can avoid unnecessary damage to the visitor economy if industry and government work together from day one.”