Hopes for tourism funding boost dashed in federal budget

A $10 increase in the Passenger Movement Charge has not been welcomed by tourism industry groups.

Hopes of a boost to Tourism Australia’s funding have not been realised in the latest federal budget despite the country facing an uphill battle to get international markets to return in the same numbers they did before Covid.

Tourism Australia’s budget was cut by $24 million to $184 million due to the resumption of international travel and “the end of Covid-related additional tourism marketing campaigns”.

But figures from February showed short-term overseas arrivals were 35 per cent below 2019 figures. Nonetheless, Tourism Australia will maintain its staffing levels at 207 full-time employees.

One area that has seen a rise in Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ budget is the Passenger Movement Charge, which will be lifted by $10 to $70 from July 2024.

Dubbed a tourist tax, industry bodies were quick to criticise the move.

“This will make it even more difficult for tourism to bounce back, as cost-of-living pressures increase and as the industry rebuilds from the devastating impacts of the Covid pandemic,” said Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond.

“It will also make it more expensive for international tourists to come to Australia, at a time when we’re desperately trying to attract more visitors, with Australia’s international tourism levels still below pre-Covid levels.”