Opportunity missed in Tourist Refund Scheme report

10 Sep 2019 |

The National Audit Office’s report on the Management of the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) has missed an opportunity to highlight the poor user experience of the refund process, the Australian Chamber – Tourism, the peak body representing national tourism groups, said today.

“The Audit Office’s report on the TRS released yesterday, focuses on the governance process and procedures in the administration of the TRS, with the experience of users not highlighted”, Executive Chair of Australian Chamber-Tourism, John Hart, said.

“With travellers allowed a refund of the taxes on purchases totalling at least $300 from a single business, the TRS is a major factor in boosting Australian retail sales to international travellers and provides an incentive for visitors to purchase in Australia.

Over $5.2 billion was spent by international visitors on shopping, gifts and souvenirs in 2017-18, amounting to $520 million Goods and Services Tax paid.

According to the National Audit Report however, the TRS made refunds of only $229.6 million in 2017-18, with only 49% of this amount claimed by non-residents.

“This is reflective of the poor user experience of the TRS claim process with international travellers having to queue before their flights. This creates long delays and travellers either have to wait for hours to process their claim or choose to forgo their refund altogether, with the latter occurring more frequently,” Mr Hart said.

“This audit has failed to consider the most import aspect of the TRS to our economy, the less than ideal final impression of our country that our international visitors have. Both the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Home Affairs do not consider the TRS to be an operational priority, but improvements in the claims process to make it faster and user-friendly will greatly improve the visitor experience.

“We urge the Government to transition the TRS to a simpler online process and consider the proposals of the Tourism Shopping Reform Group.”

Marie Hogg

Senior Adviser - Media

P  |  0431 299 518

E  |  [email protected]

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