Bed tax back on the agenda

Queensland’s Newman government is pushing for a bed tax to be introduced in the state in an effort to honour its promise to doubling overnight visitor expenditure to $30 billion by 2020.

The prospect was mooted in some circles at the DestinationQ conference but with the state government getting a whiff of scoring more money out of tourists, a working group has been looking at ways of implementing the tax. A bed tax has been researched many times – even back in the Joh Bjielke-Petersen days – and always rejected because of the negative effect it has on visitor arrivals.

The tax would be between 1 and 2 per cent but it is unclear if that would be levied only on the room rate or the entire bill.

The Newman government is using the excuse of meeting its ambitious Tourism 2020 goals for implementing a bed tax that may infringe its commitment not to tax consumers after it waived many of its rights when GST was implemented. But the real reason for the tax is another revenue source for the cash strapped government.

Tourism 2020 goals include:

• Raising international visitor nights by 24 per cent.

• Raising domestic visitor nights by 29 per cent.

• Raising international aircraft movements from 21,190 to 57,130.

• Raising hotel room inventory by 16,460.

• Raising the hospitality workforce by 40,000.

There is six years to go to meet these targets but, based on current growth figures, the goals appear ambitious. The question is would making Queensland even more expensive as a destination assist in achieving these targets?

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