Aussie departure tax hike sparks fears for NZ tourism

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A hike in Australia’s airport passenger departure tax has been slammed as a slap in the face for trans-Tasman tourism.

The Australian Government has announced a 17 per cent hike in the tax from July 1.

The passenger movement charge will rise to $NZ71, which means a family of four Aussies holidaying in New Zealand will pay $NZ280 departure tax just to leave their country.

Tourism Industry Association New Zealand chairman Norm Thompson says the increase will be a barrier to the almost 1.2 million Australians who travel to NZ annually.

“Australia is our largest and most valuable visitor market and our aim is to encourage travel here.

“We have been pushing for a seamless border experience that will increase the flow of trans-Tasman travel, with streamlined border processing and ‘mates rates’ to halve the passenger movement charge for Kiwis and Australians.

“Instead the Australian Government has imposed this hefty increase on a tax that is already high.”

Thompson says he’s been advised that NZ Prime Minister/Tourism Minister John Key will lobby his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard.