The Australian government's move to hike its departure tax has been labelled a cash grab by tourism industry bodies on both sides of the Tasman.
New Zealanders heading home after a holiday across the ditch will feel an extra pinch in their pocket from July 1, as they're asked to cough up $A8 ($NZ10.40) more per person, just to leave the airport.
The departure tax increase, from $A47 ($NZ61) to $A55 ($NZ71), was announced in Australia's federal government budget last week.
It's estimated Kiwis will give the Australian government an additional $NZ12.4 million over the next year as a result of the hike.
Australia's Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive John Lee says the increase unfairly impacts trans-Tasman visitors, especially those travelling on discounted airfares.
"This increase means a New Zealand family of four who take a holiday to Australia will pay more than $280 just for the privilege of returning home," he said.
"The message from the Australian government to Kiwis is really simple, we're going to charge you more and more and maybe you won't just come."
Mr Lee said that at the moment, the departure tax brings in about $700m for the Australian government, but only about $200m of that goes back into passenger services at airports.
"This is just a grab for cash, it can't be masked in any other way."
Tourism Industry Association NZ chairman Norm Thompson said the increase came as a surprise, as there has been lobbying on both sides of the Tasman for the tax to be reduced for passengers to New Zealand.
"This is an absolute tax grab by the Australian government."
Mr Thompson said there are also concerns about the impact of the departure tax increase on Australian visitors to New Zealand.Prime Minister John Key is expected to raise concerns about the departure tax hike when he next talks to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
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