Queensland: boosting tourism with the tax?

Covid has nearly killed Far North Queensland’s $2.5 billion tourism industry. Now the Queensland Tourism Industry Benchmark Committee is here to complete it.

About half of all jobs in the region have been lost since 2020, particularly in the once bustling district of Cairns. JobKeeper managed to keep a few of them limping along, but since federal support ended, many more small businesses have closed.

There simply aren’t enough international tourists to make these businesses profitable.

Remote areas that have survived the constant flow of international travelers remain empty. Tour boats are inactive. Cafes and bars have no one to serve. Hotels boast floor after floor of dark rooms.

Where is everyone?

Australia’s travel rules have kept doors partially locked while other countries maintain a convoluted web of restrictive domestic travel laws – like vaccine passports – cutting off a significant chunk of the tourist market.

Even tourists who fly in have far less money to throw at Australian businesses.

Potential tourists are looking for cheap vacation destinations where they can escape overzealous Big Brother governments. Thanks to Daniel Andrews in Victoria, Australia has a bit of a global PR problem on that front after clips of counter-terrorism police shooting citizens with rubber bullets went viral.

Understandably, the Sunshine State is desperate for a way to reclaim its tourism sector. This would usually come in the form of a clever “Where the hell are you?” advertisements or paying TikTok influencers to flood Instagram with perfect bodies enjoying the beaches of Queensland.

Instead, the Queensland Tourism Industry Reference Panel has spent the past authoritative years offering a a lot Better idea.

Why not tax tourists visiting iconic Queensland attractions?

You know, punish them for wanting to see the “must do” version of Queensland fast food tourism…

If that doesn’t work out, fees will also be introduced specifically for virtuous green tourists who have chosen to spot national parks or other natural wonders. Want to dive around the reef? There will be a fee for this. Bathing skinny in a rainforest pool? Definitely a tax. Hiking in the mountains? You can see where this leads.

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe called the idea a “bold vision”. Others would call it “incredibly stupid”.

“Some of the recommendations are ambitious and will require further consideration and consultation with the tourism industry.”

Certainly, given that the situation in Queensland industry has gotten so bad that the government has spent the last year pumping money into it in the form of grants like the Covid-19 International Tourism Adaptation Scholarship and the $200 million Building better regions project.

Taxing tourists is something the tourism industry in Queensland has never liked, mainly because it scares people more than wildlife.

Tax advocates argue that the proposed scheme to steal money from tourists is nothing new on a global scale. It’s true. Tourist taxes exist. Usually these taxes are created to control the number of people at catastrophically overcrowded attractions – which is the opposite problem facing Queensland.

No one has seen a country taxing people to “encourage” crowds (for obvious reasons).

“While we appreciate that opinions are polarized about whether this is an appropriate way to raise funds, everyone we spoke to saw a greater need than ever for increased funding. during the Covid recovery period,” the panel proposing the tax said.

You can’t tax tourists who aren’t there – and that’s exactly what will happen if Queensland pursues this absurd policy.

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