With the need to protect the environment generally agreed to be A Good Thing, the remaining arguments in the world travel industry nowadays mainly revolve around the best way to do this without killing the goose that lays the golden egg – the steady flow of tourists to the world’s travel destinations and the availability of cheap holidays.
Various governments have implemented taxation policies aimed at making airlines, tourists or travel companies foot the bill for carbon emissions or environmental wear and tear – for instance visitors to the Brazilian island paradise of Fernando de Noronha pay a daily surcharge just for being there to cover the costs of keeping the archipelago beautiful and a haven for wildlife.
The more usual method governments employ is that of the carbon tax – whether levied on cheap flights booked or directly on carbon emitting companies themselves. Either way the imposition of such taxes tends to spark industry protests, complaining that the taxes are damaging to profits at a time of economic uncertainty or that they prevent companies from being able to offer the kinds of cheap holidays that the public demand.
This week Australia’s government came under attack for its new carbon tax, which was narrowly voted through by the lower legislative house. The tax will charge companies for carbon pollution and give incentives to invest in clean and renewable energy production.
The World Travel & Tourism Council warned that the taxes could hit Australian tourism hard and were not actually meant to protect the environment at all, with president and chief executive David Scowsill declaring that “axes should not be imposed purely as at revenue generating exercise for the central government.”
“The Australian Government already makes $650 million per annum from the Passenger Movement Charge of $47 per passenger,” he insisted in 2011.
“It seems counter-productive to unilaterally impose a carbon tax as an additional burden to the industry, as it will mean inevitable price rises for consumers and a consequential dampening of demand for travel.”