Tourism

Tourism fiasco averted after 18-month spat

Daisy Melwani

So there we have it, the ongoing backpacker tax debate has finally come to a close with Australian Greens and the Government reaching a decision yesterday.

The Greens put their support behind the proposed 15% rate, allowing Government to pass the bill in the Senate.

Despite the positive decision, according to the Australian Tourism Export Council the whole process was a “damaging and unsavoury political distraction which has taken the focus away from the positive contribution our export tourism industry has made to the Australian economy”.

“Rather than focus on how they can support the tourism industry to continue its fantastic growth trajectory, parliamentarians of all persuasions have played political football with Australia’s tourism image,” ATEC Managing Director, Peter Shelley said.

“While most of the focus has been on the needs and labour concerns of the farming sector, the tourism industry has been tossed aside, and is now left to rebuild the backpacker visitor market.

“It has been an 18 month spat over detail that should have been worked out long ago.”

“At the end of the day, backpackers are here for one reason, and one reason only, and that is to see Australia – they are tourists – and this has been forgotten in this absurd debate,” Shelley said.

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Another group happy with the end of the backpacker debate is Adventure Tours Australia, part of the Intrepid Group, and now the largest adventure travel operator in Australia.

“Cheers to the senate for making a good decision. It was never going to be an easy one, but to be fair 15% is a reasonable number and this combined with the reduced cost of the application fee and the age increase will help to make Australia sexy again,” Adventure Tours Australia, Brand Leader, David Thomson said.

“But, the most important step now is our next step. We need to show backpackers what is unique to Australia; our rich indigenous culture, our diverse landscapes, wildlife and vibrant cities – and show them that they can experience Australia affordably.”

“I’d love to see a portion of the millions of dollars generated by the backpacker tax go towards protecting their working conditions. Most employers treat the working holiday visa holders fairly, but the government needs to provide a level of reform to protect the backpacker against those dodgy few who could harm our reputation in the long term,” Thomson said.

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