Steps Toward Australia-nz Common Border Welcome

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20th August 2009, 02:29pm - Views: 857
Steps Toward Australia-NZ Common Border Welcome

Streamlined passenger processing arrangements between Australia and New Zealand can enhance the vital trans-Tasman tourism market, according to peak industry group Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF).

The Australian and New Zealand prime ministers, Kevin Rudd and John Key, today announced that a range of measures will be investigated to improve passenger facilitation for nationals travelling between the two countries.

TTF's Managing Director, Christopher Brown, said the initiative had the strong support of Australia's aviation and tourism sectors but that the two governments must also consider the impact of departure taxes on tourism.

"Events such as the Bledisloe Cup underline the importance of the tourism and trade relationship between Australia and New Zealand," Mr Brown said.

"There were 1.1 million visitors to Australia from New Zealand in 2008, almost 20 per cent of the total number of international visitors to Australia.

"If anything, the impacts of the global financial crisis and swine flu have made trans-Tasman visitors even more crucial for the Australian tourism industry and economy.

"Smooth passenger processing is fundamental to the relationship, reducing the burden on airport and government resources and making a good first impression on international visitors.

"Today's announcement is a welcome step towards a 'common border'.

"However, it also raises questions about the level of departure taxes between the two countries.

"Australia's Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) adds $47 to the cost of trans-Tasman travel.

"At a time when airfares from New Zealand are cheaper and more competitive than ever, this is a considerable imposition on travellers and increasingly hard to justify.

"The PMC is supposed to recover the costs of passenger facilitation and aviation security, but the new measures will reduce those costs and New Zealand visitors are a low security risk in any case.

"Easing the burden of the PMC would particularly benefit tourism in regional areas of Australia popular with New Zealand tourists, such as Tropical North Queensland, which are suffering from the effects of the economic downturn."

Mr Brown said that airport concerns should also be considered in the development of the new measures, given the technical challenges involved in achieving greater harmonisation.

TTF advocated a common border in its submission to the federal government's Aviation White Paper process, and is an industry member of the government's National Passenger Facilitation Committee.

Media contact: Tom Woodward, 0448 240 770

SOURCE: Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF)

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