The Gold Coast Mayor’s proposed bed tax has been slammed by Australia’s leading associations and operators.
On Wednesday, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate revealed he had written to the Queensland state government seeking special legislation to introduce a new bed tax on the Gold Coast.
The move was quickly opposed by Queensland’s Tourism Minister, Jann Stuckey, along with industry bodies the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAA), the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) and Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA), and hotel chains, including Best Western Australasia.
The Accommodation Association of Australia’s CEO, Richard Munro, said introducing a tourist levy or bed tax would have a severe negative impact on the industry.
“The accommodation industry is strongly opposed to a bed tax,” he said.
“It would impose an unnecessary cost burden on visitors resulting in consumers re-considering whether or not to travel to what is an iconic tourism region.
“The end result is lower visitor numbers and less revenue for major tourism businesses, including hotels, motels and other accommodation businesses.
“The accommodation industry is pleased that the Queensland Minister for Tourism has stated publicly that the Government doesn’t support the proposal.”
Munro said existing arrangements in many parts of Australia where accommodation businesses voluntarily contribute to cooperative marketing initiatives are already working well and that the industry does not support the imposition of compulsory bed taxes or visitor levies.
“The Gold Coast Mayor needs reminding that major accommodation businesses on the Gold Coast pay millions of dollars in rates every year,” Munro said.
“But under his proposal, even as little as a few extra dollars a night would more than likely result in a drop of thousands of visitors to the Gold Coast.
“The Mayor should be rolling out the welcome mat for tourists – not hitting them with a new tax.”
Best Western Australasia’s Chief Executive, Rob Anderson, told HM he supports the position of the Accommodation Association of Australia.
He said the proposed Gold Coast bed tax would be “counterproductive to Gold Coast tourism and would put the city, including its accommodation operators, at a disadvantage”.
TTF Chief Executive Ken Morrison said the tourism industry strongly opposes the proposal.
“A new Gold Coast bed tax would be a disaster for tourism,” Morrison said.
“We welcome the news that Queensland Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey opposes the suggestion and we call on Premier Campbell Newman to rule out a bed tax state wide.
“We are sympathetic with the desire to find more money for tourism infrastructure, but no one ever grew an industry by taxing it more.
“Increasing the cost of accommodation will ultimately cost jobs as tourists decide to go elsewhere.
“The fact is every Gold Coast resident would pay $1385 extra tax each year without the revenue generated by tourism.
“The Gold Coast already has a tourism marketing fund which is the envy of the state, funded by a broad-based small rate increment.
“The Gold Coast is heavily dependent on tourism with more than 17,000 direct tourism jobs, representing more than 7% of total direct employment in the region.
“Government needs to be investing in tourism not taxing it.
“A bed tax would be disastrous for accommodation providers, many of whom already make significant contributions to promoting Queensland in domestic and international markets,” Morrison said.
TAA Managing Director Rodger Powell said that bed taxes had been introduced and then withdrawn in other cities because of the demonstrable negative effects the tax had on the city or region.
“The proposal would be economically reckless because the tax would not only dissuade international visitors from coming to Australia, it would give domestic travellers yet another reason for travelling overseas,” he said.
“The Gold Coast economy revolves around tourism and this tax would affect all the industries that provide services to the sector. It would cost jobs, and in the end, the tax would cause far greater losses in revenue than the money it would raise for Council.
“Bed taxes are both inefficient and inequitable. Targeting the accommodation sector might seem an easy option, but accommodation represents only 40% of total spend by travellers, so taxing accommodation operators misses the majority of the market and hits an industry that has struggled over the past five years.
“There is always talk of the need to encourage new hotel development and to invest in upgrading existing stock, but that is not going to happen when there are prospects of increased costs. If a bed tax was to be introduced, operators would need to pass it on to guests, who would then vote with their feet and either travel elsewhere or stay for a shorter time. That will impact the whole economy.
“The Gold Coast has spent a fortune marketing itself as the country’s premier ‘fun’ holiday destination, but the prospect of a bed tax is distinctly unfunny and should be resisted by the State Government, which has generally been very pro-tourism.”