Most Aussies are unfamiliar with this $55 hidden travel charge

Peter Terlato 21 June 2016

Aussie passport

The ageing fee is often concealed in the airfare.

The majority of Australians are blissfully unaware they are being hit with a hidden fee every time they travel overseas.

A survey of more than 1,000 Aussies, commissioned by the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF), revealed over 85% are unfamiliar with the government's Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) – a tax that's estimated to net nearly $1 billion over the next financial year.

The PMC is currently fixed at $55 and applies to passengers departing Australia on an international flight or cruise.

The fee is a flat rate that has been frozen since July 2012 and is the same cost for budget flyers and family cruise passengers as it is for business or first-class travellers on a premium airline. It's often built into the cost of the fare.

The charge was introduced more than 20 years ago in 1995 to assist the government in offsetting the costs of passenger facilitation at airports, specifically through upgrades in the areas of customs, immigration and quarantine.

According to TTF, only $250 million of the approximate $1 billion in revenue generated by the PMC will go towards improving processing for passengers, the remaining $750 million will be at the government's disposal.

More than 80% of Australians believe the hidden holiday tax should be reduced, removed or invested into the tourism industry to support jobs and boost the economy.

Nearly 40% of those surveyed want political parties to explain plans for the PMC as part of their election campaign. The TTF has requested both major political parties at least continue the freeze on the charge for the next term of Parliament.

More than a quarter (25.1%) of respondents say they would support a political party who wouldn't increase the PMC, while just 13% say the government can spend the extra cash however they see fit.

Although delayed until January next year, the government will introduce a backpacker tax to working holidaymakers in Australia at a rate of 32.5% on all earnings.

Picture: Shutterstock

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