FEDERAL BUDGET 2012: Tobacco and tourists to be slugged at Australia’s borders in a bid to balance the books

Treasurer Wayne Swan has announced an increase in Australia’s passenger movement charge, the fee paid by travellers when they depart Australia.

The passenger movement charge will soar from $47 to $55 from July 1, 2012 with the charge to be indexed annually by movements in the Consumer Price Index.

The passenger movement charge was last increased in 2008 and the Government estimates increasing the charge will raise $610 million over the forward estimates period.

The inbound duty free allowance for cigarettes and tobacco for international travellers will also be reduced from 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco to 50 cigarettes and 50 grams of tobacco from September 1, 2012.

The Government expects to raise $600 million from the reduced cigarettes and tobacco allowance.

Some of the money raised will be put back into Australia’s tourism industry, with $61 million earmarked over four years to establish an Asia marketing fund.

The fund will support the promotion of Australia to growing markets in Asia and is intended to encourage investment by the private sector and state and territory governments.

It will be administered by Tourism Australia.

In a statement accompanying the budget, Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said the fund will promote Australia to growing markets in Asia and is in addition to Tourism Australia’s $530 million in funding to market Australia domestically and internationally.

“In less than a decade, it is estimated that there will be 100 million outbound trips undertaken by people from China each year,” said Ferguson.

“This investment will help ensure Australia is their destination of choice.”

Ferguson said some of Australia’s pre-eminent cultural tourism attractions including the National Gallery, National Library and the National Museum are also benefiting from the 2012-13 Budget, with $39.3 million over the next four years to expand their programs and collections.

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