Government and Policy

June 30, 2016

Election Tourism Agenda

The Labor Party have released their official party platform  on tourism. The Coalition has announced a number of tourism and infrastructure initiatives during the campaign, but their last official stance on the industry was released at the time of the Budget –

TAA’s focus is on our post-election strategy to ensure continued advocacy on the issues impacting the industry:

  1. Labour & Skills. The importance of skilled migration; the negative impact of backpacker tax and support for attracting local talent to the industry.
  2. Accommodation Investment.  Easing the burden of regulations – for example, Disability Access Standards; Ensuring a level playing field; and supporting both metropolitan and regional investment inclusive of the need for reliable and timely data to underpin that investment.
  3. Driving Demand. Investment in Tourism Australia and business events; Continued reform of visitor visa processing and costs; freezing the Passenger Movement Charge.
  4. Development of a 2030 tourism plan underpinned by research that focuses both on current supply and demand priorities and forecasts for the future.

Cities move against unregulated short-term commercial accommodation

Cities around the world have started to take control of the burgeoning unregulated short-term accommodation sector with new legislation and rules targeting commercial operators. The most significant of these is New York, with the Senate supporting its earlier decision to make illegal short-term rentals of less than 30 days in non-residential properties by introducing fines of up to US$7500 for repeat offenders.


Expansion of Australia’s Arrivals SmartGates

From 20 June, 2016 Australia’s Arrivals SmartGates will be permanently open to eligible Chinese, Hong Kong, Macau, Japanese, Korean, French and Swedish ePassport holders.

This is a significant expansion, increasing permanent use from eight to 13 eligible countries, plus the Special Administrative Regions (SARs) Hong Kong and Macau. This milestone marks another step in significant progress towards delivering streamlined and simplified border experiences for international visitors to NSW.

Arrivals SmartGate also has multilingual support, enabling display or selection of a number of languages, including: Arabic, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese and Vietnamese.

ACCC to commence excessive surcharge compliance role on 1 September 2016

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will begin enforcing the ban on excessive surcharges for large merchants on 1 September 2016. Surcharges will be deemed ‘excessive’ where they exceed the permitted cost of acceptance, as defined in the Standard.

The Standard defines what businesses are able to include in setting a surcharge and sets out a two-staged implementation, with the ban commencing on 1 September 2016 for ‘large merchants’ and 1 September 2017 for all other merchants.

The Standard defines a ‘large merchant’ to be one that satisfies at least two of the following requirements: it has a consolidated gross revenue of $25 million or more, the value of its consolidated gross assets is $12.5 million or more, or it employs 50 or more employees. The Standard will apply to six card systems – EFTPOS, Debit MasterCard, MasterCard Credit, Visa Debit, Visa Credit and American Express cards issued by Australian banks.

Businesses will no longer be able to average out costs on the above cards unless the lowest rate is used. The cost of acceptance is the actual cost – no allocation of hotel’s own costs are permitted. Please find a link to the ACCC’s guidance material.  Please find attached our Member Bulletin.

Visitor Visa Improvements

The Australian government has been introducing a number of trials and improvements to visitor visa access:

  • Online lodgement of visitor visa applications in China and India has been available for the past few months through selected agents and Foreign Affairs Offices. Work is progressing to enable online lodgement for individuals in China by December 2016.
  • A trial of a premium fast-track service (48hour processing) for Visitor visa applications to eligible Chinese nationals applying in China via a service delivery partner for an additional charge of AUD$1000. This initiative will be evaluated after six months. The Fast-Track Service is being publicised through the China post website and social media.
  • A trial of a 10 year validity Visitor visa for eligible Chinese nationals for a fee of AUD$1000 will commence in December 2016.
  • The trial for online lodgement in Mandarin Chinese will be implemented in the second half of 2016.

Status of Survey of Tourist Accommodation

Austrade, together with each of the State and Territory Tourism Organisations (STOs), has engaged the ABS to undertake the 2015-16 Survey of Tourist Accommodation (STA). The survey is expected to be despatched to selected accommodation operators in early July. Results are expected to be released publicly by the ABS in late November 2016.

In terms of the longer term solution Austrade have prepared an Approach To Market (ATM) for the Survey of Tourist Accommodation. The approach was approved by ASCOT in May and released on Austender on 1 June 2016.

The ATM is to test whether an organisation other than the ABS can deliver a national and/or a regional accommodation data collection that meets the critical key design principles, is cost-effective and demonstrates self-sufficiency after three years.

The tender will close on 12 July 2016 and the submissions will go to a Tender Evaluation Committee to evaluate. It is likely that a recommendation will be presented to ASCOT on the 16 November and a potential supplier will be engaged by December 2016.