It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and I’ve got a couple of early presents for members.
TTF’s hard fought advocacy campaigns for a competitive backpacker tax and a freeze on the holiday tax – the Passenger Movement Charge – have paid dividends for our members on the final days of the Parliament sitting calendar.
TTF has been one of the leading voices on the foolish policy of introducing a 32.5 per cent tax rate on working holiday makers since it appeared in the 2015-16 Budget. In fact, looking back at the media release we issued on that infamous Budget night, TTF labelled it from the very beginning for what it was a ‘backpacker tax’ that would drive this important market to more competitive destinations like New Zealand.
For 18 long months, TTF has been relentlessly hammering away on the need to if not scrap the tax in its entirety, then to dramatically cut the rate to a more competitive level. Our advocacy secured a six-month delay in the implementation date to 1 January 2017 with industry consultation, modifications to working holiday visas including a $50 cut to the cost of the visa, extended age eligibility, a $10 million marketing campaign to promote working holidays to visitors, a Senate inquiry into the package and as a result of all these activity, finally a more competitive tax rate of 15 per cent.
A big win for TTF and our members is the legislated commitment to a five year freeze on any further increases in the Passenger Movement Charge. Our engagement with the Senate crossbench which coincided with the great timing of the TTF Leadership Summit being held in the halls of Parliament House during those crucial final sitting weeks has delivered this fantastic result. For the next five years until at least 2022, members can be assured that there will be no surprise hike in the holiday tax as we’ve seen happen so many times before. This is not a handshake commitment. It’s not a wink or a nod agreement. It has been written into the Act, passed by the Parliament, and given Royal assent by the Governor General. A fantastic advocacy win that delivers a real world bottom line result for many TTF members.
As you have seen through the year we’ve been enhancing and updating our Circular to be an even better resource for members. I’m very pleased to include in this edition a new periodic section – TTF Member Spotlight. Every couple of weeks or so we’ll be profiling one of our great members and asking them to share what they do and what the policy and advocacy priorities of their organisation are over the coming 12 months. Museums Victoria, one of our new members, is in the spotlight today providing insight into some of the fantastic activities they are doing in the cultural and educational space. This is a new opportunity for all members and if you’d like to profile your organisation please get in touch with us going forward over 2017.
The action just hasn’t stopped around here. In just the past couple of weeks we’ve realised the update of our popular TTF National Tourism Business Count & Employment Atlas. It’s a great resource for members and politicians of the distribution of visitor economy jobs throughout Australia by the 150 federal electorates. Every Federal MP represents an average of 3870 voters who are employed in the industry. You can download a copy of the Atlas from our website or we have some wonderfully printed fold out versions we can provide on request, just give us a yell.
We have also released a major aviation report in partnership with Airbiz – Welcome to Australia! Improving the Visitor Experience at the Border. It’s a very timely report outlining areas in our airports that the Federal Government needs to spend some of that $1 billion holiday tax windfall they are raising each year. The report identifies the problems, highlights international best practice, and suggests common-sense solutions, using a combination of exciting technology and new practices to put Australia on the right path to consistently providing a first-class visitor experience at our international gateways.