The tourism industry is urging the government not to review Customs fees.
The tourism industry is urging the government not to review Customs fees. Scott Powick

Fears Customs fees review could dampen tourism

THE tourism industry has urged the Abbott government not to allow a review of a key fee on international tourists arriving in Australia to be "budget neutral".

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced he was starting a review of all Customs-related fees and charges, with a key focus on cost recovery.

"Outside the Australian Taxation Office the Immigration and Border Protection portfolio is the biggest 'tax collector' in the country," Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said while it was important that the fees did not create a "disincentive" for travellers, the review must also ensure it looks at how to "recover the costs" of running border operations.

But acting chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum, Trent Zimmerman, said that constraining the review by "requiring budget neutrality" would limit its potential benefits.

"Tourism is a major export earner and a growth industry for Australia and must not be conflated with other aspects of national security as a drain on the public purse.

The tourism industry was particularly concerned about any hikes to the passenger movement charge - fees applied on international tourists as they leave the country at the airport.

Mr Zimmerman said it was already the "highest departure tax in the developed world for short-haul flights", with bigger impacts on travellers from New Zealand and Indonesia.

"The (charge) collects more than $900 million a year, while border processing at Australia's international airports costs around $230 million a year, meaning it over-collects by almost $700 million a year," he said.

The government is seeking the tourism and other industry views as part of its review of all the border fees, charges and taxes.


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