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Beware of ‘tax hacks’ to maximise your return this year. The tax office is taking a close look at incorrect claims

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>For many people a tax refund is a much-anticipated lump sum of money.</p> <p>So, it is understandable Australians will be looking for ways to maximise their returns – particularly we are in a cost-of-living crisis.</p> <p>But, whether you do your own return or use a tax agent, taking risks is not advised.</p> <h2>Be wary of tax hacks</h2> <p>But be wary of “tax hacks” you might hear about from online sources (I’m looking at you, <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/professional-services/tiktok-gst-fraud-hit-on-tax-office-blows-out-to-4-6b-20230813-p5dw2y">TikTok</a>). Two truisms spring to mind:</p> <p><strong>1. Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog</strong></p> <p>Many tax hacks suggest you spend considerable money on purchases up front to claim tax deductions. But a tax deduction isn’t actually worth the value amount of your spend.</p> <p>For example: let’s say you’re on a taxable income of A$60,000 per year, which puts you roughly in the <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/how-wealthy-are-you-compared-to-everyone-else-in-eight-charts-20221214-p5c6a8">50th percentile</a> of income earners and means your <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/tax-rates-and-codes/tax-rates-australian-residents#ato-Australianresidenttaxrates2020to2025">marginal tax rate is 32.5 cents</a>.</p> <p>You might spend $1,000 on a purchase in the hope of getting a sweet $1,000 tax deduction. However, you’re going to be $675 out of pocket. This is because that $1,000 deduction is only worth $325 (because tax is calculated on your taxable income, which is assessable income less allowable deductions).</p> <p>It will be worth even less next year because of the introduction of the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-27/stage-three-tax-cut-changes-pass-senate/103519338">revised Stage 3 tax cuts</a> and that’s a good thing because you’ll be paying less tax overall.</p> <p><strong>2. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is</strong></p> <p>Even if you use a registered tax agent (and it’s important to check they are registered by checking <a href="https://www.tpb.gov.au/public-register">the Tax Practitioners’ Board</a>), it’s a common pitfall to think any aggressive deductions they might suggest are their responsibility if the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) comes knocking. That’s not the case.</p> <p>Taxpayers are responsible for errors in returns made by their tax agents, so the ATO will hold you responsible.</p> <p>Indeed, the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/media-centre/ato-flags-3-key-focus-areas-for-this-tax-time">ATO has announced</a> it will be taking a close look at three common errors being made by taxpayers:</p> <ul> <li> <p>incorrectly claiming work-related expenses</p> </li> <li> <p>inflating claims for rental properties</p> </li> <li> <p>failing to include all income when lodging.</p> </li> </ul> <p>It might be tempting to think you’ve got away with over claiming deductions or under reporting income but the ATO has sophisticated systems to <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Commitments-and-reporting/Information-and-privacy/How-we-use-data-and-analytics">analyse your data</a>) and track your claims.</p> <p>You’ll need to substantiate your claims, so keep records. If the tax office finds mistakes, you could face <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/paying-the-ato/interest-and-penalties/penalties/penalties-for-making-false-or-misleading-statements">financial penalties</a>, even jail time.</p> <p>Two months ago, a woman was sentenced to two years and six months jail and ordered to repay $39,600 after she lodged three fraudulent Business Activity Statements and received a GST refund to which she wasn’t entitled. While under investigation, she then sent eight false statements to the ATO and tried to claim more money.</p> <p>This is one on many individuals named on the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/about-ato/tax-avoidance/the-fight-against-tax-crime/our-focus/refund-fraud/gst-refund-fraud-attempts/operation-protego">ATO’s website</a> highlighting the results of regular crackdowns.</p> <h2>So, should I use a tax agent?</h2> <p>There are nearly 20.5 million active tax file numbers registered to individuals in Australia and last tax year the ATO received 13.7 million individual tax return lodgements. This was a 3% increase on the previous year. Of these lodgements more than 5.6 million were lodged by self-preparers and more than 8 million were lodged by tax agents.</p> <p>It <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">makes sense</a> most Australians use agents to prepare and lodge their tax returns. It’s easier, less stressful, gives you confidence the job is being done right and saves time.</p> <p>Having said that, it does come at a price (see above on the value of deductions), and previous research which finds that <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">every extra dollar spent on a tax agent</a> only yields an estimated tax savings of 20 cents), and if you have simple tax affairs then it’s relatively easy and quick to do it yourself.</p> <h2>How do I prepare my tax return?</h2> <p>Generally, everyone should be lodging an income tax return each year (or, if you don’t need to lodge a tax return, lodging a non-lodgement advice). The ATO has a “Do I need to lodge a tax return?” tool <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/before-you-prepare-your-tax-return/work-out-if-you-need-to-lodge-a-tax-return">if you’re unsure</a>.</p> <p>It also has a useful <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/how-to-lodge-your-tax-return/lodge-your-tax-return-online-with-mytax">two minute video</a> which steps you through the process for lodging with their online system myTax.</p> <p>For those of us with simple tax affairs, you just need to follow these steps:</p> <ol> <li> <p>gather and prepare all your information regarding income from work, interest, dividends and any other income such as capital gains from crypto assets or sale of shares</p> </li> <li> <p>then gather and prepare all your information on deductions and work expenses to be claimed making sure you have the evidence to back up your claims. This can be in the form receipts, invoices, log books and diary entries</p> </li> <li> <p>if you are a self-preparer you can log onto your myGov or the ATO’s app to prepare and lodge your return. If you wait until late-July you’ll have the benefit of the ATO’s pre-filled data, too. This gives you plenty of time to make the October 31 deadline.</p> </li> </ol> <p>There’s also the option to use the ATO’s free, volunteer-run TaxHelp program (provided you meet the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/help-and-support-to-lodge-your-tax-return/tax-help-program">eligibility criteria</a>), your local Tax Clinic (<a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/financial-difficulties-and-disasters/support-to-lodge-and-pay/national-tax-clinic-program">details here</a>), or by seeking help from a registered tax agent. Just make sure you engage them before the October 31 deadline.</p> <h2>Where it might get tricky</h2> <p>But for others, for example if you have an ABN, it gets a bit more complicated. If you operate your business as a sole trader, you must lodge a tax return, even if your income is below the tax-free threshold.</p> <p>And if you have registered for GST – which you must do when your business or enterprise has a GST turnover of $75,000 or more, or if you are a taxi driver or Uber driver – then you will also need to submit quarterly BAS.</p> <p>It gets even more complicated for partnerships, trusts and companies, so it is best to seek the guidance and professional expertise of a registered tax agent, if you aren’t already.</p> <h2>What if I can’t afford a tax agent?</h2> <p>This year, many Australians are doing it tough. Indeed, research by the ASIC’s Moneysmart program estimates <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-06-04/asic-survey-millions-of-australians-facing-financial-difficulty/103926704">more than five million Australians</a> are in financial strife.</p> <p>Many people will find it hard to prioritise paying a registered tax agent when they cannot afford basic necessities like food.</p> <p>If you’re in this situation, you might find it useful to get in touch with a free financial counsellor via the <a href="https://ndh.org.au/">National Debt Helpline</a> or the <a href="https://sbdh.org.au/">Small Business Debt Helpline</a>.</p> <h2>Don’t procrastinate</h2> <p>Don’t put off doing your tax. If you’re behind, it might seem daunting to get back on track, especially if you think you’ll have to pay extra tax this year instead of getting a refund. But not lodging your returns will backfire. Like avoiding a trip to the doctor to get a skin check, the longer you wait, the more the problem will grow.</p> <p>Reaching out to the ATO is the key because they have tools to support you, including payment plans. It also shows the ATO that you are willing to comply. Ultimately, being up to date will save you fines, interest and penalties.</p> <p>If you are one of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/worried-youll-lodge-a-late-tax-return-at-least-80-000-australians-cant-afford-tax-advice-211267">80,000 Australians in serious hardship</a> who need but can’t afford professional help to complete and lodge overdue returns, the government-funded <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Gen/National-Tax-Clinic-program/">National Tax Clinics Program</a> can help with free tax advice.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231693/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, Associate Professor Ann Kayis-Kumar is the Founding Director of UNSW Tax and Business Advisory Clinic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/beware-of-tax-hacks-to-maximise-your-return-this-year-the-tax-office-is-taking-a-close-look-at-incorrect-claims-231693">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Tourism Australia staff caught spending $140k of taxpayers' money on personal travel

<p>Three Tourism Australia employees have been fired after spending $137,441 of taxpayers' money for personal travel expenses, with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) called in to investigate.  </p> <p>Tourism Australia is the government agency in charge of promoting Australia's tourism industry abroad. </p> <p>Tourism Australia chief executive Phillipa Harrison appeared before a Senate committee in Canberra on Tuesday and confirmed the breach of the agency’s travel policy. </p> <p>The spending  had been uncovered in October 2023 when the agency's own staff detected the misuse of funds and “immediately reported and escalated” it. </p> <p>“The three employees undertook personal travel that was booked through Tourism Australia’s corporate travel agent and was invoiced to Tourism Australia,” she told the committee. </p> <p>“Tourism Australia demanded that the three individuals repay the full amount of this travel.”</p> <p>She added that the full amount was repaid to Tourism Australia last December, and the three employees have since been sacked. </p> <p>Harrison also said that Deloitte was hired to do an extensive audit dating back to 2021 “to ensure that we understood the full extent of the issue” but “no further instances of wrongdoing were identified”.</p> <p>“Off the back of the audit I have overseen a strengthening of our travel policy processes to ensure the conduct cannot be repeated,” she said.</p> <p>Tourism Australia have referred the matter to the NACC and are awaiting a response. </p> <p>When asked by New South Wales Nationals senator Ross Cadell about the identities of the staff and whether the agency's chief financial officer was among those involved, she replied: "The NACC has advised me that I'm unable to provide the further details on the roles and the people involved until they have finished their investigations." </p> <p>"To do so may compromise current or potential investigations, and prematurely impact the reputations of individuals in circumstances where the legislation enacted by parliament intends to avoid that by requiring that investigations, generally, be conducted in private and that information concerning them is not to be disclosed."</p> <p>She took a question on notice about how many trips were booked by the staff and the destinations for the travel. </p> <p>Her refusal to answer the questions caught the senator off-guard and he said: “I am shooketh, shaken, by not being able to ask these questions,” before calling a short suspension to discuss the concerns. </p> <p>On return, she officially claimed “public interest immunity” and was told she had to outline the situation in writing. </p> <p>"I have to say, this is the first time in my experience where a direction from the NACC has directed an official not to make a public statement," Tourism and Trade Minister Don Farrell said. </p> <p>"This does present some significant issues which I myself would like to get clarified.</p> <p>"You and I both voted for this legislation and obviously this is how it's being applied. The witness, obviously, has to comply with the direction of the NACC, she has no choice."</p> <p>The matter has not been referred to authorities. </p> <p><em>Image: Tourism Australia/ news.com.au</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Tourist's shocking behaviour sparks fury

<p>Locals were left fuming after a picture of a tourist wearing next to nothing while shopping down a busy street went viral in Palma, Mallorca. </p> <p>The man confidently made his way through the sunny city centre in nothing but a pair of Speedos and shoes, surrounded by others who were fully dressed. </p> <p>“Please arrest these near naked people,” one woman wrote.</p> <p>“Or the shirtless, near nude, bikini wearing morons who wander around markets, towns and shops. Ukkk! Quality tourism can’t come soon enough!" she added. </p> <p>“Another moron that should be banned from the island," another commented. </p> <p>“If the government/police were serious, they could slowly improve Mallorca by banning all these types of idiots.”</p> <p>Another local added that tourists would not behave like this at home and that his behaviour displayed a “lack of respect” typical of many tourists.</p> <p>Others were confused about where the holidaymaker was keeping his wallet as it seemed like he only held on to his phone and a red garment. </p> <p>One local even asked why he wasn't arrested, and someone replied:  “Mallorca has some great laws in place. Unfortunately, nobody seems to enforce them.”</p> <p>It is illegal to only wear a bikini or swimming shorts in some public parts of Spain – including the Balearic Islands.</p> <p>Tourists can cop a fine of up to $1000 for wearing swimwear or going shirtless anywhere but the beach. </p> <p>The incident comes after weeks of furious anti-tourist protests, with residents in the Tenerife saying they are “fed-up” of “low quality” Brit tourists who only come for the cheap beer, burgers and sunbathing. </p> <p><em>Image:  Majorca Daily Bulletin</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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A tax on sugary drinks can make us healthier. It’s time for Australia to introduce one

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-geraghty-1530733">Jessica Geraghty</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168"><em>Grattan Institute</em></a></em></p> <p>Sugary drinks cause weight gain and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00627-6">increase the risk</a> of a range of diseases, including diabetes.</p> <p>The <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2792842">evidence shows</a> that well-designed taxes can reduce sugary drink sales, cause people to choose healthier options and get manufacturers to reduce the sugar in their drinks. And although these taxes haven’t been around long, there are already signs that they are making people healthier.</p> <p>It’s time for Australia to catch up to the rest of the world and introduce a tax on sugary drinks. As our new Grattan Institute <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/sickly-sweet/">report</a> shows, doing so could mean the average Australian drinks almost 700 grams less sugar each year.</p> <h2>Sugary drinks are making us sick</h2> <p>The share of adults in Australia who are obese has tripled since 1980, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/mapping-australias-collective-weight-gain-7816">10%</a> to more than <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/waist-circumference-and-bmi/latest-release">30%</a>, and diabetes is our <a href="https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/diabetes-in-australia/">fastest-growing</a> chronic condition. The costs for the health system and economy are measured in the billions of dollars each year. But the biggest costs are borne by individuals and their families in the form of illness, suffering and early death.</p> <p>Sugary drinks are a big part of the problem. The more of them we drink, the greater our risk of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00627-6">gaining weight</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963518/">developing type 2 diabetes</a>, and suffering <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurpub/article/31/1/122/5896049?login=false">poor oral health</a>.</p> <p>These drinks have no real nutrients, but they do have a lot of sugar. The average Australian consumes <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/apparent-consumption-selected-foodstuffs-australia/latest-release">1.3</a> times the maximum recommended amount of sugar each day. Sugary drinks are responsible for more than one-quarter of our daily sugar intake, more than any other major type of food.</p> <p>You might be shocked by how much sugar you’re drinking. Many 375ml cans of soft drink contain eight to 12 teaspoons of sugar, nearly the entire daily recommended limit for an adult. Many 600ml bottles blow our entire daily sugar budget, and then some.</p> <p>The picture is even worse for disadvantaged Australians, who are more likely to have <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/diabetes/latest-release">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/waist-circumference-and-bmi/latest-release">obesity</a>, and who also consume the most sugary drinks.</p> <h2>Sugary drink taxes work</h2> <p>Fortunately, there’s a proven way to reduce the damage sugary drinks cause.</p> <p>More than <a href="https://ssbtax.worldbank.org/">100 countries</a> have a sugary drinks tax, covering most of the world’s population. <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2792842">Research</a> shows these taxes lead to higher prices and fewer purchases.</p> <p>Some taxes are specifically designed to encourage manufacturers to change their recipes and cut the sugar in their drinks. Under these “tiered taxes”, there is no tax on drinks with a small amount of sugar, but the tax steps up two or three times as the amount of sugar rises. That gives manufacturers a strong incentive to add less sugar, so they reduce their exposure to the tax or avoid paying it altogether.</p> <p>This is the best result from a sugary drinks tax. It means drinks get healthier, while the tax is kept to a minimum.</p> <p>In countries with tiered taxes, manufacturers have slashed the sugar in their drinks. In the United Kingdom, the share of products above the tax threshold <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003025">decreased dramatically</a>. In 2015, more than half (52%) of products in the UK were above the tax threshold of 5 grams of sugar per 100ml. Four years later, when the tax was in place, that share had plunged to 15%. The number of products with the most sugar – more than 8 grams per 100ml – declined the most, falling from 38% to just 7%.</p> <p>The Australian drinks market today looks similar to the UK’s before the tax was introduced.</p> <p>Health benefits take longer to appear, but there are already promising signs that the taxes are working. Obesity among primary school-age girls has fallen in <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1004160">the UK</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2786784">Mexico</a>.</p> <p>Oral health has also improved, with studies reporting fewer children going to hospital to get their teeth removed in <a href="https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/6/2/243">the UK</a>, and reduced dental decay <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33853058/">in Mexico</a> and <a href="https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(23)00069-7/abstract">Philadelphia</a>.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(23)00158-7/fulltext">study from the United States</a> found big reductions in gestational diabetes in cities with a sugary drinks tax.</p> <h2>The tax Australia should introduce</h2> <p>Like successful taxes overseas, Australia should introduce a sugary drink tax that targets drinks with the most sugar:</p> <ul> <li>drinks with 8 grams or more of sugar per 100ml should face a $0.60 per litre tax</li> <li>drinks with 5–8 grams should be taxed at $0.40 per litre</li> <li>drinks with less than 5 grams of sugar should be tax-free.</li> </ul> <p>This means a 250ml Coke, which has nearly 11 grams of sugar per 100ml, would cost $0.15 more. But of course consumers could avoid the tax by choosing a sugar-free soft drink, or a bottle of water.</p> <p>Grattan Institute <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/sickly-sweet/">modelling</a> shows that under this tiered tax, Australians would drink about 275 million litres fewer sugary drinks each year, or the volume of 110 Olympic swimming pools.</p> <p>The tax is about health, but government budgets also benefit. If it was introduced today, it would raise about half a billion dollars in the first year.</p> <p>Vested interests such as the beverages industry have fiercely resisted sugary drink taxes around the world, issuing disingenuous warnings about the risks to poor people, the sugar industry and drinks manufacturers.</p> <p>But our new report shows sugary drink taxes have been introduced smoothly overseas, and none of these concerns should hold Australia back.</p> <p>We certainly can’t rely on industry pledges to voluntarily reduce sugar. They have been <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/trends-in-sugar-content-of-nonalcoholic-beverages-in-australia-between-2015-and-2019-during-the-operation-of-a-voluntary-industry-pledge-to-reduce-sugar-content/EE662DE7552670ED532F6650C9D56939">weak</a> and misleading, and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/10/sugar-increase-in-fanta-and-sprite-prompts-calls-for-new-tax-on-australia-food-and-drinks-industry">failed to stick</a>.</p> <p>It will take many policies and interventions to turn back the tide of obesity and chronic disease in Australia, but a sugary drinks tax should be part of the solution. It’s a policy that works, it’s easy to implement, and most Australians <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/6/e027962">support it</a>.</p> <p>The federal government should show it’s serious about tackling Australia’s biggest health problems and take this small step towards a healthier future.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228906/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, Program Director, Health and Aged Care, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-geraghty-1530733">Jessica Geraghty</a>, Senior Associate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-tax-on-sugary-drinks-can-make-us-healthier-its-time-for-australia-to-introduce-one-228906">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Australian churches collectively raise billions of dollars a year – why aren’t they taxed?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-boccabella-15706">Dale Boccabella</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>There’s a good reason your local volunteer-run netball club doesn’t pay tax. In Australia, various nonprofit organisations are exempt from paying income tax, including those that do charitable work, such as churches.</p> <p>These exemptions or concessions can also extend to other taxes, including fringe benefits tax, state and local government property taxes and payroll taxes.</p> <p>The traditional justification for granting these concessions is that charitable activities benefit society. They contribute to the wellbeing of the community in a variety of non-religious ways.</p> <p>For example, charities offer welfare, health care and education services that the government would generally otherwise provide due to their obvious public benefits. The tax exemption, which allows a charity to retain all the funds it raises, provides the financial support required to relieve the government of this burden.</p> <p>The nonprofit sector is often called the third sector of society, the other two being government and for-profit businesses. But in Australia, this third sector is quite large. Some grassroots organisations have only a tiny footprint, but other nonprofits are very large. And many of these bigger entities – including some “megachurches” – run huge commercial enterprises. These are often indistinguishable from comparable business activities in the for-profit sector.</p> <p>So why doesn’t this revenue get taxed? And should we really give all nonprofits the same tax exemptions?</p> <h2>Why don’t churches pay tax?</h2> <p>The primary aim of a church is to advance or promote its religion. This itself counts as a charitable purpose under the <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">2013 Charities Act</a>. However, section five of that act requires a church to have only charitable purposes – any other purposes must be incidental to or in aid of these.</p> <p>Viewed alone, the conduct of a church with an extensive commercial enterprise – which could include selling merchandise, or holding concerts and conferences – is not a charitable purpose.</p> <p>But Australian case law and <a href="https://www.acnc.gov.au/for-charities/start-charity/role-acnc-deciding-charity-status/legal-meaning-charity#:%7E:text=Taxation%20Ruling%20(TR)%202011%2F,set%20out%20in%20taxation%20rulings.">an ATO ruling</a> both support the idea that carrying on business-like activities can be incidental to or in aid of a charitable purpose. This could be the case, for example, if a large church’s commercial activities were to help give effect to its charitable purposes.</p> <p>Because of this, under Australia’s current income tax law, a church that is running a large commercial enterprise is able to retain its exemption from income tax on the profits from these activities.</p> <p>There are various public policy concerns with this. First, the lost tax revenue is likely to be significant, although the government’s annual tax expenditure statement does not currently provide an estimate of the amount of tax revenue lost.</p> <p>And second, the tax exemption may give rise to unfairness. A for-profit business competing with a church in a relevant industry may be at a competitive disadvantage – despite similar business activities, the for-profit entity pays income tax but the church does not. This competitive disadvantage may be reflected in lower prices for customers of the church business.</p> <h2>What about taxing their employees?</h2> <p>Churches that run extensive enterprises are likely to have many employees. Generally, all the normal Australian tax rules apply to the way these employees are paid – for example, employees pay income tax on these wages. Distributing profits to members would go against the usual rules of the church, and this prohibition is <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">required</a> anyway for an organisation to qualify as a charity.</p> <p>Some churches may be criticised for paying their founders or leaders “excessive” wages, but these are still taxed in the same way as normal salaries.</p> <p>It’s important to consider fringe benefit tax – which employers have to pay on certain benefits they provide to employees. Aside from some qualifications, all the usual <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/how-fringe-benefits-tax-works">fringe benefit tax rules</a> apply to non-wage benefits provided to employees of a church.</p> <p>Just like their commercial (and taxable) counterparts, the payment for “luxury” travel and accommodation for church leaders and employees when on church business will not generate a fringe benefits taxable amount for the church.</p> <p>One qualification, though, is that a church is likely to be a <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/fbt-concessions-for-not-for-profit-organisations/fbt-rebatable-employers">rebatable employer</a> under the fringe benefit tax regime. This means it can obtain some tax relief on benefits provided to each employee, up to a cap.</p> <h2>We may need to rethink blanket tax exemptions for charities</h2> <p>Back in an age where nonprofits were mainly small and focused on addressing the needs of people failed by the market, the income tax exemption for such charities appeared appropriate.</p> <p>But in the modern era, some charities – including some churches – operate huge business enterprises and collect rent on extensive property holdings.</p> <p>Many are now questioning whether we should continue offering them an uncapped exemption from income tax, especially where there are questions surrounding how appropriately these profits are used.</p> <p>Debates about solutions to the problem have focused on various arguments. However, more data may be needed on the way charities apply their profits to a charitable purpose, particularly those involved in substantial commercial activities.</p> <p>An all-or-nothing rule exempting the whole charitable sector may no longer be fit for purpose if it fails to take into account the very different circumstances of different nonprofits.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228901/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-boccabella-15706"><em>Dale Boccabella</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Taxation Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, Senior Lecturer Taxation, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australian-churches-collectively-raise-billions-of-dollars-a-year-why-arent-they-taxed-228901">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Why this iconic view of Mt Fuji is set to be obstructed

<p>One small town in Japan is fed up with disrespectful tourists, and is set to take drastic measures to block an iconic view of My Fuji to deter travellers. </p> <p>Fujikawaguchiko, at the foot of the Yoshida Trail to Mount Fuji, has long been overrun with tourists who are hellbent on getting the perfect picture of the Japanese mountain. </p> <p>Tourists specifically flock to the Lawson convenience store to take their pictures, with the contrast between the busy neon-lit shop and the peaceful mountain behind it making for the perfect holiday snap. </p> <p>However, in recent years since Japan reopened its borders to international tourists after harsh Covid lockdowns, these tourists have had the run of the town, and locals have had enough. </p> <p>To combat the over tourism of the area and deter travellers, local officials of the town are set to erect a giant mesh barrier atop the store, blocking the picture perfect view.</p> <p>One town official said that there have been ongoing problems with tourists leaving trash and not following traffic rules, despite signs and security guards being posted to warn them.</p> <p>"It is regrettable that we had to take such measures," the official said.</p> <p>The net, which measures 2.5 meters high and 20 meters long, will be erected early next week.</p> <p>The crowds plaguing the small town, which is in Yamanashi prefecture, to the north of Fuji and about 100 kilometres west of Tokyo, is just one part of a larger over tourism issue in the whole of Japan. </p> <p>"Overtourism – and all the subsequent consequences like rubbish, rising CO2 emissions and reckless hikers – is the biggest problem facing Mount Fuji," Masatake Izumi, a Yamanashi prefectural government official, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/travel/mount-fuji-overtourism-intl-hnk/index.html">told CNN Travel</a> in 2023.</p> <p>Some locals had even nicknamed the 3,776-meter (12,388-foot) mountain, called Fuji-san in Japanese, "trash mountain."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

International Travel

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Stamp duty is holding us back from moving homes – we’ve worked out how much

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-garvin-1453835">Nick Garvin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>If just one state of Australia, New South Wales, scrapped its stamp duty on real-estate transactions, about 100,000 more Australians would move homes each year, according to our <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stamp-duty-effects-on-purchases-and-moves.pdf">best estimates</a>.</p> <p>Stamp duty is an unquestioned part of buying a home in Australia – you put your details in an online mortgage calculator, and stamp duty is automatically deducted from the amount you have to contribute.</p> <p>It’s easy to overlook how much more affordable a home would be without it.</p> <p>That means it’s also easy to overlook how much more Australians would buy and move if stamp duty wasn’t there.</p> <p>The 2010 Henry Tax Review found stamp duty was <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-10/afts_final_report_part_2_vol_1_consolidated.pdf">inequitable</a>. It taxes most the people who most need to or want to move.</p> <p>The review reported: "Ideally, there would be no role for any stamp duties, including conveyancing stamp duties, in a modern Australian tax system. Recognising the revenue needs of the States, the removal of stamp duty should be achieved through a switch to more efficient taxes, such as those levied on broad consumption or land bases."</p> <p>But does stamp duty actually stop anyone moving? It’s a claim more often made than assessed, which is what our team at the <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stamp-duty-effects-on-purchases-and-moves.pdf">e61 Institute</a> set out to do.</p> <p>We used real-estate transaction data and a natural experiment.</p> <h2>What happened when Queensland hiked stamp duty</h2> <p>In 2011, Queensland hiked stamp duty for most buyers by removing some concessions for owner-occupiers at short notice.</p> <p>For owner-occupiers it increased stamp duty by about one percentage point, lifting the average rate from 1.26% of the purchase price to 2.27%.</p> <p>What we found gives us the best estimate to date of what stamp duty does to home purchases.</p> <p>A one percentage point increase in stamp duty causes the number of home purchases to decline by 7.2%.</p> <p>The number of moves (changes of address) falls by about as much.</p> <p>The effect appears to be indiscriminate. Purchases of houses fell about as much as purchases of apartments, and purchases in cities fell about as much as purchases in regions.</p> <p>Moves between suburbs and moves interstate dropped by similar rates.</p> <p>With NSW stamp duty currently averaging about <a href="https://conveyancing.com.au/need-to-know/stamp-duty-nsw">3.5%</a> of the purchase price, our estimates suggest there would be about 25% more purchases and moves by home owners if it were scrapped completely. That’s 100,000 moves.</p> <p>Victoria’s higher rate of stamp duty, about <a href="https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/rates-taxes-duties-and-levies/general-land-transfer-duty-property-current-rates">4.2%</a>, means if it was scrapped there would be about 30% more purchases. That’s another 90,000 moves.</p> <h2>Even low headline rates have big effects</h2> <p>The big effect from small-looking headline rates ought not to be surprising.</p> <p>When someone buys a home, they typically front up much less cash than the purchase price. While stamp duty seems low as a percentage of the purchase price, it is high as a percentage of the cash the buyer needs to find.</p> <p>Here’s an example. If stamp duty is 4% of the purchase price, and a purchaser pays $800,000 for a property with a mortgage deposit of $160,000, the $32,000 stamp duty adds 20%, not 4%, to what’s needed.</p> <p>If the deposit takes five years to save, stamp duty makes it six.</p> <p>A similar thing happens when an owner-occupier changes address. If the buyer sells a fully owned home for $700,000 and buys a new home for $800,000, the upgrade ought to cost them $100,000. A 4% stamp duty lifts that to $132,000.</p> <p>Averaged across all Australian cities, stamp duty costs about <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stepped-on-by-Stamp-Duty.pdf">five months</a> of after-tax earnings. In Sydney and Melbourne, it’s six.</p> <h2>Stamp duty has bracket creep</h2> <p>This cost has steadily climbed from around <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stepped-on-by-Stamp-Duty.pdf">six weeks</a> of total earnings in the 1990s. It has happened because home prices have climbed faster than incomes and because stamp duty has brackets, meaning more buyers have been pushed into higher ones.</p> <p>Replacing the stamp duty revenue that states have come to rely on would not be easy, but a switch would almost certainly help the economy function better.</p> <p>The more that people are able to move, the more they will move to jobs to which they are better suited, boosting productivity.</p> <p>The more that people downsize when they want to, the more housing will be made available for others.</p> <p>Our findings suggest the costs are far from trivial, making a switch away from stamp duty worthwhile, even if it is disruptive and takes time.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225773/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-garvin-1453835">Nick Garvin</a>, Adjunct Fellow, Department of Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/stamp-duty-is-holding-us-back-from-moving-homes-weve-worked-out-how-much-225773">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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"There's no way": Man receives $52 billion tax bill

<p>An American man has been left confused after receiving a letter from the government claiming he owed $52 billion in unpaid taxes. </p> <p>Barry Tangert got two letters in the mail from the state of Pennsylvania, opening the first to find a refund check from the federal government for over $900.</p> <p>His joy was short-lived though as he opened the second letter to find the income billing notice from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue claiming that he owed a jaw-dropping $52,950,744,735.28 ($34,576,826,561.47 AUD).</p> <p>“I knew it was an obvious blunder. I don’t even make over $100,000 a year, so there’s no way I could owe anywhere near that,” Barry Tangert told local outlet <em>News 8</em>.</p> <p>The total sum was so large it didn’t even fit on a single line on the document.</p> <p>Tangert immediately knew it was a mistake, with the astonishing number being more than triple the $11 billion America’s richest man Elon Musk says he owed the government in 2022.</p> <p>How the error made it all the way to his doorstep is still a mystery to Tangert.</p> <p>“I don’t know if it was a computer glitch in the transmission or if it was an input error from my tax preparer,” Tangert said, noting that his tax preparer filed an amendment after noticing an error on his 2022 return.</p> <p>He reached out to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s customer service line, which also provided little help to the baffled man.</p> <p>“The first thing he said was, ‘You had a good year.’ And I said, ‘I wish,’” Tangert said.</p> <p>Fortunately, the state department has since resolved the issue, which it chalked up to wrong numbers simply being put into the system.</p> <p><em>Image credits: WGAL News 8</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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Does hosting the Olympics, the World Cup or other major sports events really pay off?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ivan-savin-678930">Ivan Savin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/escp-business-school-813">ESCP Business School</a></em></p> <p>After a long battle, <a href="https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20240213-paris-booksellers-stay-olympics-macron-bouquiniste-france">Paris’s beloved <em>bouquinistes</em> will be staying put</a> this summer. The decision, announced on 13 February by the French government, came after considerable public backlash to the police prefecture’s original plan to move part of the iconic Seine booksellers elsewhere for the inauguration of the Olympics Games on 26 July.</p> <p>Meanwhile, less than six months away from the event, Parisians continue to grumble over a <a href="https://www.ouest-france.fr/jeux-olympiques/cest-aberrant-ce-maire-vient-dapprendre-que-sa-ville-accueillera-les-jeux-de-paris-ab1fa968-cfd1-11ee-89c0-6cefac77e04a">lack of consultations</a> with locals, warnings of <a href="https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20231130-paris-vehicle-traffic-to-be-heavily-restricted-during-2024-olympic-games">gridlocked traffic</a>, closed metro stations, extensive video surveillance and other grievances. So for host countries, what was the point of the Olympics, again?</p> <p>In academia, the debate about the potential positive and negative effects of large-scale sporting events is ongoing. Although these events are often associated with substantial economic losses, the long-term benefits are the main argument in favour of hosting them. These include the development of material and soft infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants or parks. Big games can also help put the host region on the map as an attractive place for sports and cultural events, and inspire a better entrepreneurial climate.</p> <h2>The pros and the cons of big sporting events?</h2> <p>The cost of these benefits, as the Parisians have realised, is steep. Host countries appear to suffer from increased tax burdens, low returns on public investments, high construction costs, and onerous running cost of facilities after the event. Communities can also be blighted by noise, pollution, and damage to the environment, while increased criminal activity and potential conflicts between locals and visitors can take a toll on their quality of life. As a result, in the recent past several major cities, including Rome and Hamburg, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/6-cities-that-rejected-the-olympics/a-46289852">withdrew their bids to host the games</a>.</p> <p>A common feature of the economics of large-scale sporting events is that our expectations of them are more optimistic than what we make of them once they have taken place. Typically, expenditure tends to tip over the original budget, while the revenue-side indicators (such as the number of visitors) are rarely achieved.</p> <p>When analysing the effect of hosting large-scale sporting events on tourist visits, it is important to take into consideration both the positive and negative components of the overall effect. While positive effects may be associated with visitors, negative effects may arise when “regular” tourists refuse to visit the location due to the event. This might be because of overloaded infrastructure, sharp increases in accommodation costs, and inconveniences associated with overcrowding or raucous or/and violent visitors. On top of that, reports of poverty or crime in the global media can actually undermine the location’s attractiveness.</p> <h2>When big sporting events crowd out regular tourists</h2> <p>In an <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1527002523120639">article published in the <em>Journal of Sports Economics</em></a> with Igor Drapkin and Ilya Zverev, I assess the effects of hosting large-scale sporting events, such as Winter and Summer Olympics plus FIFA World Cups, on international tourist visits. We utilise a comprehensive dataset on flow of tourists covering the world’s largest destination and origin countries between 1995 and 2019. As a first step, we built an econometric model that effectively predicts the flow of tourists between any pair of countries in our data. Subsequently we compared the predicted tourist inflow in a hypothetical scenario where no large-scale sporting event would have taken place with the actual figures. If the actual figures exceed the predicted ones, we consider the event to have a net positive impact. Otherwise, we consider that it had a “crowding out” effect on “regular” tourists. While conducting this analysis, we distinguished between short-term (i.e., focusing just on the year of the event) and mid-term (year of the event plus three subsequent years).</p> <p>Our results show that the effects of large-scale sporting events vary a lot across host countries: The World Cup in Japan and South Korea 2002 and South Africa 2010 were associated with a distinct increase in tourist arrivals, whereas all other World Cups were either neutral or negative. Among the Summer Olympics, China in 2008 is the only case with a significant positive effect on tourist inflows. The effects of the other four events (Australia 2000, Greece 2004, Great Britain 2012, and Brazil 2016) were found to be negative in the short- and medium-term. As for the Winter Olympics, the only positive case is Russia in 2014. The remaining five events had a negative impact except the one-year neutral effect for Japan 1998.</p> <p>Following large-scale sporting events, host countries are therefore typically less visited by tourists. Out of the 18 hosting countries studied, 11 saw tourist numbers decline over four years, and three did not experience a significant change.</p> <h2>The case for cautious optimism</h2> <p>Our research indicates that the positive effect of hosting large-scale sporting events on tourist inflows is, at best, moderate. While many tourists are attracted by FIFA World Cups and Olympic games, the crowding-out effect of “regular” tourists is strong and often underestimated. This implies that tourists visiting for an event like the Olympics typically dissuade those who would have come for other reasons. Thus, efforts to attract new visitors should be accompanied by efforts to retain the already existing ones.</p> <p>Large-scale sporting events should be considered as part of a long-term policy for promoting a territory to tourists rather than a standalone solution. Revealingly, our results indicate that it is easier to get a net increase in tourist inflows in countries that are less frequent destinations for tourists – for example, those in Asia or Africa. By contrast, the United States and Europe, both of which are traditionally popular with tourists, have no single case of a net positive effect. Put differently, the large-scale sporting events in Asia and Africa helped promote their host countries as tourist destinations, making the case for the initial investment. In the US and Europe, however, those in the last few decades brought little return, at least in terms of tourist inflow.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222118/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ivan-savin-678930">Ivan Savin</a>, Associate professor of quantitative analytics, research fellow at ICTA-UAB, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/escp-business-school-813">ESCP Business School</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-hosting-the-olympics-the-world-cup-or-other-major-sports-events-really-pay-off-222118">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Tips

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What to expect from the federal budget

<p>There's just three weeks left until Treasurer Jim Chalmers unveils the federal budget.</p> <p>With the cost of living crisis still a major issue across the country, we can expect to see some policies aimed at alleviating the pressure. </p> <p>Some policies, have already been announced and here are a few others that we can expect to hear from Chalmers on May 14. </p> <p>Stage 3 cuts announced in January, will form a key part of this year's budget, which will direct more benefit towards low- and middle-income earners – although Australians on high salaries will still receive a tax cut.</p> <p>The decision was made to alleviate the cost-of-living pressures and partly address the bracket creep. The cuts lower the threshold for the lowest two brackets (so they pay less tax on that income), and raise the threshold for the highest two brackets (so they need to earn more to be taxed at a higher rate). </p> <p>This means that someone with average income of around $73,000 will get $1504, but how much you actually receive will depend on your income. </p> <p>The new version of the stage 3 cuts will come into effect on July 1.</p> <p>Superannuation will be paid on government-funded parental leave, with the change due to kick in for parents with babies born after July 1, 2025.</p> <p>They will receive a 12 per cent superannuation on top of their government-funded parental leave, with around 180,000 families expected to benefit from it. </p> <p>The figures will be included in the May 14 budget. </p> <p>Although nothing has been officially announced,  there will likely be HECS-HELP debt relief for current and former students. </p> <p>"I think there's a range of areas where we need to do much better with the younger generation, and HECS is one of them," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on radio on April 18.</p> <p>"We've received a review of that... and what that has said is that the system can be made simpler and be made fairer.</p> <p>"We're examining the recommendations and we'll be making announcements pretty soon on that. We, of course, have a budget coming up."</p> <p>There have also been some hints from the government that energy bill relief will continue in this year's budget. </p> <p>"Our government understands that for small business – as for Australian families – energy bills remain a source of financial pressure," Albanese said, citing the existing policy that gives eligible families up to $500 off their power bills and eligible small businesses up to $650.</p> <p>"Our government understands that for small business – as for Australian families – energy bills remain a source of financial pressure," he said.</p> <p>"That's why the energy bill relief package I negotiated with the states and territories delivered up to $650 in savings for around 1 million small businesses, along with 5 million families.</p> <p>"And as we put together next month's budget, small businesses and families will again be front and centre in our thinking."</p> <p>Energy bills are also set to go down, or remain stable for the most part from July 1. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Tourist slapped with $225k bill after simple mistake

<p>An American tourist has revealed the moment he was charged with a $US143k (AU$225k) bill after a short holiday to Switzerland. </p> <p>Rene Remund and his wife Linda went on the trip last September.</p> <p>Prior to their travels, Remund made sure to inform his mobile phone provider, T-Mobile, that he was going overseas and as a customer of 30 years, he was told he was “covered”.</p> <p>So, with no worries at all, the tourist shared photos of his moments in the Swiss countryside with friends and family via photo messages. </p> <p>Imagine his surprise when he came home to a six-figure bill, after he racked up thousands and thousands of dollars in daily roaming costs. </p> <p>“I get this T-Mobile bill and it doesn’t bother me very much because I was reading $143,” he explained, adding it wasn’t until he went to pay the bill that he realised a few more zeros were involved.</p> <p>“I look at the bill and I say, ‘excuse me’,” he said.</p> <p>“$143,000 … are you guys crazy?”</p> <p>According to the bill, Remund had racked up 9.5 gigabytes of data while in Europe, which cost him thousands of dollars each day. While it wasn't a huge amount of data, not being covered by roaming fees will cause a user to run up a huge bill very quickly. </p> <p>“I called [T-Mobile] and the girl put me on hold for a while,” he explained.</p> <p>“She said let me check this out and I’ll get back to you. She gets back and says, yeah this is a good bill.</p> <p>“I said, ‘what do you mean it’s a good bill?’ And she says ‘well, this is what you owe’.</p> <p>“I said ‘you’re kidding me … you’re crazy’.”</p> <p>After confirming that his bill was in fact  AU$225,000, Remund hired a lawyer to argue the fact that he was covered for international roaming. </p> <p>His lawyer issued a letter to the president of T-Mobile, and they only received a reply a few days ago. </p> <p>The letter from T-Mobile allegedly said that the service provider was “sorry” for the charges, and that Remund would receive a “credit” to eliminate the entire bill. </p> <p>In an email shared to local media <em>Scripps News Tampa</em>, the mobile phone provider said that customers should always “check the travel features of their plan, such as international data roaming, before departing”.</p> <p>“If a customer is on an older plan that doesn’t include international roaming for data and calling, they’ll need to make sure they’re using aeroplane mode and wi-fi when using data to be certain the device doesn’t connect to an international network.”</p> <p><em style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; background-color: #ffffff; outline: none !important;">Images: ABC Action News</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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Elephant tourism often involves cruelty – here are steps toward more humane, animal-friendly excursions

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-szydlowski-1495781">Michelle Szydlowski</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/miami-university-1934">Miami University</a></em></p> <p>Suju Kali is a 50-year-old elephant in Nepal who has been carrying tourists for over 30 years. Like many elephants I encounter through my <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/10888705.2022.2028628">research</a>, Suju Kali exhibits anxiety and can be aggressive toward strangers. She suffers from emotional trauma as a result of prolonged, commercial human contact.</p> <p>Like Suju Kali, many animals are trapped within the tourism industry. Some venues have no oversight and little concern for animal or tourist safety. Between 120,000 and 340,000 animals are used globally in a variety of wildlife tourism attractions, including <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0138939">endangered species</a> like elephants. Over a quarter of the world’s <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/7140/45818198">endangered elephants</a> reside in captivity with little oversight.</p> <p>Wildlife tourism – which involves viewing wildlife such as primates or birds in conservation areas, feeding or touching captive or “rehabilitated” wildlife in facilities, and bathing or riding animals like elephants – is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/14724049.2022.2156523">tricky business</a>. I know this because I am <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=YbweA2MAAAAJ&amp;hl=en">a researcher studying human relationships with elephants</a> in both tourism and conservation settings within Southeast Asia.</p> <p>These types of experiences have long been an <a href="https://kathmandupost.com/money/2021/06/17/tourism-is-nepal-s-fourth-largest-industry-by-employment-study">extremely popular and profitable</a> part of the <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002074">tourism market</a>. But now, many travel-related organizations are urging people not to participate in, or <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2018/04/27/animal-welfare-travelers-how-enjoy-wildlife-without-harming/544938002/">calling for an outright ban on, interactive wildlife experiences</a>.</p> <p>Tourism vendors have started marketing more “ethical options” for consumers. Some are attempting to truly improve the health and welfare of wildlife, and some are transitioning captive wildlife into touch-free, non-riding or lower-stress environments. In other places, organizations are attempting to <a href="https://www.fao.org/documents/card/es/c/b2c5dad0-b9b9-5a3d-a720-20bf3b9f0dc2/">implement standards of care</a> or create manuals that outline good practices for animal husbandry.</p> <p>This marketing, academics argue, is often simply “<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2017.11.007">greenwashing</a>,” <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2023.2280704">applying marketing labels to make consumers feel better</a> about their choices without making any real changes. Worse, research shows that some programs marketing themselves as ethical tourism may instead be widening economic gaps and harming both humans and other species that they are meant to protect.</p> <h2>No quick fix</h2> <p>For example, rather than tourist dollars trickling down to local struggling families as intended by local governments, many tourism venues are owned by nonresidents, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/japfcsc.v2i1.26746">meaning the profits do not stay in the area</a>. Likewise, only a small number of residents can afford to own tourism venues, and venues do not provide employment for locals from lower income groups.</p> <p>This economic gap is especially obvious in Nepalese elephant stables: Venue owners continue to make money off elephants, while elephant caregivers continue to work 17 hours a day for about US$21 a month; tourists are led to believe they are “<a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/book/10.1079/9781800624498.0000">promoting sustainability</a>.”</p> <p>Yet, there are no easy answers, especially for elephants working in tourism. Moving them to sanctuaries is difficult because with no governmental or global welfare oversight, elephants may end up in worse conditions.</p> <p>Many kindhearted souls who want to “help” elephants know little about their biology and mental health needs, or what it takes to keep them healthy. Also, feeding large animals like Suju Kali is pricey, <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14010171">costing around $19,000 yearly</a>. So without profits from riding or other income, owners – or would-be rescuers – can’t maintain elephants. Releasing captive elephants to the jungle is not a choice – many have never learned to live in the wild, so they cannot survive on their own.</p> <h2>Hurting local people</h2> <p>Part of the problem lies with governments, as many have marketed tourism as a way to fund conservation projects. For example in Nepal, a percentage of ticket sales from elephant rides are given to community groups to use for forest preservation and support for local families.</p> <p>Increasing demand for <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Tourism-and-Animal-Ethics/Fennell/p/book/9781032431826">wildlife-based tourism</a> may increase traffic in the area and thus put pressure on local governments to further limit local people’s access to forest resources.</p> <p>This may also lead to <a href="https://www.worldanimalprotection.org/latest/news/un-world-tourism-organisation-urged-create-better-future-animals/">increased demands on local communities</a>, as was the case in Nepal. In the 1970s, the Nepalese government removed local people from their lands in what is now Chitwan National Park as part of increasing “conservation efforts” and changed the protected area’s boundaries. Indigenous “Tharu,” or people of the forest, were forced to abandon their villages and land. While some were offered access to “buffer zones” in the 1990s, many remain poor and landless today.</p> <p>In addition, more and more desirable land surrounding conservation areas in Nepal is being developed for tourist-based businesses such as hotels, restaurants and shops, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/japfcsc.v2i1.26746">pushing local poor people farther away</a> from central village areas and the associated tourism income.</p> <p>Some activists would like humans to simply release all wildlife back into the wild, but <a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/book/10.1079/9781800624498.0000">there are multiple issues</a> with that. Elephant habitats throughout Southeast Asia have been transformed into croplands, cities or train tracks for human use. Other problems arise from the fact that tourism elephants have <a href="https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315457413">never learned</a> how to be elephants in their natural elements, as they were <a href="https://www.pugetsound.edu/sites/default/files/file/8342_Journal%20of%20Tourism%20%282009%29_0.pdf">separated from their herds</a> at an early age.</p> <p>So tourism may be vital to providing food, care and shelter to captive elephants for the rest of their lives and providing jobs for those who really need them. Because elephants can live beyond 60 years, this can be a large commitment.</p> <h2>How to be an ethical tourist</h2> <p>To protect elephants, tourists should check out reviews and photos from any venue they want to visit, and look for clues that animal welfare might be impacted, such as tourists allowed to feed, hold or ride captive wildlife animals. Look for healthy animals, which means doing research on what “healthy” animals of that species should look like.</p> <p>If a venue lists no-touch demonstrations – “unnatural” behaviors that don’t mimic what an elephant might do of their own accord, such as sitting on a ball or riding a bike, or other performances – remember that the behind-the-scenes training used to achieve these behaviors can be <a href="https://doi.org/10.21832/9781845415051-014">violent, traumatic or coercive</a>.</p> <p>Another way to help people and elephant is to to use small, local companies to book your adventures in your area of interest, rather than paying large, international tourism agencies. Look for locally owned hotels, and wait to book excursions until you arrive so you can use local service providers. Book homestay programs and attend cultural events led by community members; talk to tourists and locals you meet in the target town to get their opinions, and use local guides who provide wildlife viewing opportunities <a href="https://nepaldynamicecotours.com/">while maintaining distance from animals</a>.</p> <p>Or tourists can ask to visit <a href="https://www.americanhumane.org/press-release/global-humane-launches-humane-tourism-certification-program/">venues that are certified</a> by international humane animal organizations and that <a href="https://www.su4e.org/">do not allow contact</a> with wildlife. Or they can opt for guided hikes, canoe or kayak experiences, and other environmentally friendly options.</p> <p>While these suggestions will not guarantee that your excursion is animal-friendly, they will help decrease your impact on wildlife, support local families and encourage venues to stop using elephants as entertainment. Those are good first steps.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219792/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-szydlowski-1495781">Michelle Szydlowski</a>, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Project Dragonfly, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/miami-university-1934">Miami University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/elephant-tourism-often-involves-cruelty-here-are-steps-toward-more-humane-animal-friendly-excursions-219792">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Tips

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Survey unveils Aussies thoughts on tourism tax

<p>Earlier this year, Bali launched a controversial tourism tax, which meant that every traveller entering the island would have to pay a $15 fee, which the Indonesian province have said will be used for environmental and cultural projects. </p> <p>Now, Aussies have shared their thoughts on introducing a similar system here, and survey results have revealed that many are keen for the tourism tax to be introduced here. </p> <p>Travel provider InsureandGo conducted the survey and found that 60 per cent of Australians would support the government introducing a tax to combat the rising environmental toll of tourism.</p> <p>"Tourist taxes are a relatively new concept, but as travel demand swells, we are seeing more countries adopt the levy," InsureandGo Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Etkind said. </p> <p>"What's heartening is that only a minority of 37 per cent of respondents don't support tourism taxes, demonstrating just how many Australians support the concept of sustainable travel."</p> <p>The response comes amid increased sustainability concerns on our flora and fauna, which are being threatened by over-tourism. </p> <p>The tax is particularly supported by younger Aussies aged between 18 to 30, with 73 per cent of them saying yes to tourism taxes. </p> <p>Etkind said that this may be because younger Aussies are typically more aware of the environmental impacts of travel compared to the older generation, who may be less accustomed to the tax. </p> <p>Along with Bali, other cities and countries have started introducing similar fees to combat overtourism,  with Venice set to charge day-trippers a fee of 5 Euros ($8.20) per visit. </p> <p>Amsterdam, Netherlands has the highest tourism tax in Europe, with the former 7 per cent hotel tourist levy rising to 12.5 per cent this year. </p> <p>New Zealand also charges international visitors excluding Aussie citizens and permanent residents $25 levy ($32.64 AUD) to address the challenges created by tourism in its conservation areas. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

International Travel

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Selfies and social media: how tourists indulge their influencer fantasies

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-canavan-228682">Brendan Canavan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-nottingham-1192">University of Nottingham</a></em></p> <p>A town in the US state of Vermont <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/vermont-town-banning-influencers-tourists-visiting-fall-foliage-rcna117413">closed its roads to tourists</a> in September 2023 after a social media tag sparked a swarm of visitors that overwhelmed the rural destination.</p> <p>Videos on TikTok were seen by thousands and the hashtag #sleepyhollowfarm went viral, prompting a tourist rush to the pretty New England town of Pomfret, where visitors tried to take photos of themselves against the countryside backdrop. The town, famous for its fall foliage, criticised this as problematic and “influencer tourism”, part of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738320300426">a travel trend</a> where a social media phenomenon can spark an overwhelming and unexpected rise in visitor numbers.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0002764292036002005?casa_token=gQo4-8jeYdIAAAAA:Oq3Nf5gTtAFK7N00D1NgPO7_zl9ONlOEnzFZnojX6fX1nKXQWJZ4ERn52MlV3abn4fDN4_C4hJjq">Traditionally</a>, we think of tourists as travelling to gain new experiences. They look at sites, take photographs and collect souvenirs. However, this relationship between the tourist and touring is changing.</p> <p>Driven by <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/how-instagram-changed-the-tourism-industry/a-65348690">24-hour access to social media</a>, some tourists now travel primarily to have an experience that <a href="https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/travel/discover/get-inspired/Global-Travel-Trends">looks good online</a>. Around 75% of people in a recent American Express survey said they had been inspired to visit somewhere by social media. Some tourists may be prompted to choose a destination by seeing a <a href="https://www.elle.com/culture/travel-food/a27561982/best-instagram-spots/">backdrop that is popular on social media or on television</a>, in order to create a high-status photo.</p> <p>The expansion of social media and ubiquity of smartphone cameras has had a <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/13/7312">major impact on tourists’ behaviour</a>. This has also led to what’s been called a <a href="https://www.traveldailynews.com/column/articles/who-are-the-selfie-gaze-tourists/">selfie “tourist gaze”</a>, creating photos where the traveller is at the forefront of images rather than the destination.</p> <p>Indeed, according to my research, increasingly, some tourists go somewhere <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738320300426">to be spotted</a> – to be observed by others both online and in person at these destinations.</p> <h2>Looking for drama</h2> <p>Studies have highlighted how tourists <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261517715300388?casa_token=W51WkDKJSK8AAAAA:DG99dEWkyYKWIe6hNcLXR4KRApXV24QksHIzrRNcjVY3FngukDgIv9HLHG4o3NV4rqNJtdet">head for</a> particularly dramatic or luxurious destinations because of their social media links. Dubai, for example, with its bling culture and high-end shopping, has become a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/17/in-this-world-social-media-is-everything-how-dubai-became-the-planets-influencer-capital">playground for influencers</a> looking for a luxury backdrop to add to their celebrity-style image.</p> <p>Some tourists aim to photograph themselves in prestigious locations, rather than taking shots of their <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/13567667221113079?casa_token=xbdUjWECQvMAAAAA:mc4rqleOqgjazW9DAYduW7LaPTu4KEw1DIfbPbWF0vl0efwNPC_GQ0U-HjltguwsIsCoO4ycXgyW7Q">travel surroundings</a>. Others choose to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738320300426">act like mini-celebrities</a> and perform for the camera, expecting and wanting to be looked at by those they encounter – or even narrating their participation in extreme events.</p> <p>One of these is the <a href="https://www.theadventurists.com/rickshaw-run/">Rickshaw Run</a>, a 2,000km race across India. This adventure tourism event encourages participants to dress up, act eccentrically and get noticed. Driving tuk-tuks around India, from Kerala to Darjeeling, vehicles are personalised with eye-catching designs. Many participants film themselves and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p3wd0ii2oQ">upload the results</a> to social media, and the events tend to create a significant following. For instance, this YouTube video series created by Rickshaw Run participants drew 3.6m subscribers:</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2p3wd0ii2oQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Taking part in the Rickshaw Run.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>However, some of these tourist “performances” can cause controversy. For instance, <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/mexico-tourist-beaten-with-stick-for-climbing-chichen-itza-pyramid/EL5KGLB4CNC5ZONNZCKAMX3LLE/">climbing over</a> fragile archaeological sites in search of social media content might damage them. <a href="https://www.unilad.com/news/russian-tourist-deported-nude-photo-bali-064402-20230330">Posing for laughs</a> in areas considered sacred can offend. The reducing of cultures to <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/selfie-tourists-get-up-easter-islanders-noses-sgfxdtkj7">backdrops for social media content</a> can suggest a lack of interest in or respect for hosts by tourists.</p> <p>My research points to a growth in <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669582.2016.1263309">narcissism in society</a>, and connects this with what tourists desire from travel and how they act when travelling. This may be reflected in increased sense of entitlement and exhibitionism by tourists who aim to take photos in more difficult to reach locations or off-limit areas, for instance.</p> <p>Selfie culture arguably promotes <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09528822.2015.1082339?casa_token=tbsXw1drBAEAAAAA:qfSfJBbHWi3x8MSVeoyHBIceP7W_8C55rVctylf-2zRBzx-aG_EeFwvTmHHsOdjQpMd8LVaUrjSo">self-involvement rather than social responsibility</a>. It is well established that tourists <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/1368350050408668198?casa_token=K4p5aZCN8t4AAAAA:96p7f3qNu2WndpE-C-D0rs5mJaOlnJ5F6P4iXQlWQopseMGWuJ_5TiaFmRggxFsEjrMCoAr14Kn4">can be selfish</a>, putting their own comfort and entertainment ahead of concerns about local issues. This is especially true of the super-rich. Private jet users <a href="https://www.transportenvironment.org/discover/private-jets-can-the-super-rich-supercharge-zero-emission-aviation/">are responsible for</a> half of global aviation emissions.</p> <p>However, the desire to promote the individual and their values could be <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669582.2016.1263309">harnessed to promote</a> more sustainable tourism. Those volunteering abroad might be motivated by the image enhancement opportunities of doing good, but they often offer something back to the social and natural environments of <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669580903395030?casa_token=NvJorz8d1F4AAAAA:AXXTdW7ePimqFkWNg1W5w8umGCBwXIjus0WICRIoNZH_gsdr1hHomvMAQV21PYA2HkLwBGsO_Qus8g">their host destinations</a> in the process.</p> <p>There are signs that there’s another tourism trend, with travellers looking for deep and meaningful experiences, and ecotourism could help provide those. The act of travelling in a <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09669582.2020.1825458">more environmentally friendly way</a> could also be seen as a way to show off, and still provide selfie material.</p> <p>The environmental pros and cons of tourist self-obsession might be <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09669582.2016.1263309">debatable</a>. However, self-fixation is arguably not good for tourists themselves. For example, the desire to “perform” on camera could affect people’s mental health, according to one <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10253866.2018.1467318?casa_token=wI7sETKEKJAAAAAA:ebds6fykbyHAGSXIk9iv6-tyziFSIvganp32S65hiX8KeWlaQDwhPxF_2tWEgkNqssqd-SCE-w_3Eg">study</a>.</p> <p>Research has shown that <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14616688.2012.762691?casa_token=Jb9SzAGXBD0AAAAA:L5Q-HhPs9jWtfm0Zq4nB0uFHrZ3W8N7o1Liq0KAIRqC4ivEhKyEexEZN-ACoz1qzm7CMqD96zXOm">unexpected encounters help tourists to gain self-insight</a>. In addition, getting out of your comfort zone can lead to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213078020300074?casa_token=MkMbkdyr_cMAAAAA:LLu44kUbbsP5e-iW-kDdI7iSEo3WkLgH5IvKqb2txZA504q74J4OAhTuXIx8m90oDMSvuiq4Mg">rewarding personal growth</a>.</p> <h2>A disconnect between self and place</h2> <p>Taking yet more selfies could cut people off from their surroundings. In doing so, they could be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016073831730097X?casa_token=tOaqrhfVQ-wAAAAA:uxb7djQMWjifvjjgPMZzbq2IQqlgoaGHzWoJkkGbQYQqkbZoeuOqLD91zqwBuWs1SfY7dcK4">less present in the travel experience itself</a>. Indeed, the <a href="https://english.elpais.com/usa/2021-10-29/rise-of-selfie-deaths-leads-experts-to-talk-about-a-public-health-problem.html">growing number</a> of <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/15/asia/french-man-selfie-death-intl-scli/index.html">selfie-related tourist deaths</a> might attest to a disconnect between self and place. A <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6131996/#:%7E:text=selfie-related%20deaths.-,From%20October%202011%20to%20November%202017%2C%20there%20have%20been%20259,respectively%2C%20in%202016%20and%202017">2018 report</a> estimated 259 deaths to have occurred while taking selfies between 2011-2017.</p> <p>Other research suggests that individuals who are motivated by the desire to present a particular online image may be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211973620301458?casa_token=-HkTUB7WC7cAAAAA:455BE0L2jP-CL1nD18__Ey3fj5GsLmYfKL_EB_P7IWa7lDddpJYIW3UIo5fUjg68e7Nvm7PUlTA#s0050">more likely to take risks</a> with their travel selfies, with potentially fatal consequences.</p> <p>Tourists have always been somewhat self-obsessed. The 18th-century <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0160738385900027">Grand Tour</a>, a leisurely trip around Europe, allowed the wealthy to <a href="https://www.historyhit.com/what-was-the-grand-tour/">indulge themselves</a> in <a href="https://www.salon.com/2002/05/31/sultry/">ways</a> that might not have been socially acceptable back home. And at the beginning of the 21st century, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160738301000305?casa_token=C5eb2NJQvGsAAAAA:YrdY-xjJwBrUE9RjwyOJ3kRBS4-o7e5Jni5sluTCuZOrgnCULybO8EgJtQqsuSL7B5nZJwiH3Q#BIB37">academics worried about</a> self-involved backpacker communities in southeast Asia having little interest in mixing with local people.</p> <p>What is different about smartphones and social media is that these allow some tourists to present such self-indulgent, and sometimes insensitive, tourism traits immediately. Wifi and mobile data mean that these tourists can travel with one eye on finding the perfect selfie backdrop – filtering and sharing their travel as it happens, responding to likes and comments.</p> <p>For better or worse, living this influencer fantasy may have become an integral part of tourism for some time.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/214681/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-canavan-228682"><em>Brendan Canavan</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-nottingham-1192">University of Nottingham</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/selfies-and-social-media-how-tourists-indulge-their-influencer-fantasies-214681">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Everything you need to know before you travel to Vietnam

<p dir="ltr">So you’ve booked your flight to Vietnam to experience the best of south-east Asia. </p> <p dir="ltr">When travelling to Vietnam, and other Asian countries, there are a handful of tips and tricks to be aware of to ensure you have a smooth sailing travel experience. </p> <p dir="ltr">In comparison to travelling around Western countries, exploring Vietnam comes with a unique set of circumstances, and being prepared for every situation will make sure your trip is one to remember. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Cash is king</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">When it comes to planning your trip to Vietnam, other than booking your flights, hotels and travel insurance, one of your first priorities should be getting your hands on cash. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Vietnamese Dong is a unique currency to get used to, given that $5 AUD is equal to approximately $82,000 VND. </p> <p dir="ltr">Most of the restaurants, cafes and tourist attractions you’ll be heading to will only accept cash, so make sure you seek out an ATM (most ATMs will let you translate to English) and always have a decent amount of cash on hand. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Go off the beaten track </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Vietnam has so much more to offer than the major cities. </p> <p dir="ltr">While Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have a lot of interesting history, tourist attractions and unique cultural experiences, staying in these cities for the entirety of your Vietnam trip is limiting. </p> <p dir="ltr">Make sure you explore coastal towns such as Hoi An, Hue and Phu Quoc, explore the rolling rice fields of Sapa, and don’t forget to book your cruise around the picturesque Ha Long Bay. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Don't be afraid of the food </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">While Vietnamese food is maybe not what you’re used to eating everyday, part of experiencing a different culture is immersing yourself in the food scene. </p> <p dir="ltr">One of the best things you can do when you arrive at your destination is to book a food tour with a local guide (there are many available through TripAdvisor), to take you around and show you a variety of dishes to become accustomed to. </p> <p dir="ltr">Your food tour guide will also help ease your anxiety over ordering food in different places. </p> <p dir="ltr">Another top tip: Restaurants will often be called the name of the dishes they serve. For example, places that sell the delicious Bahn Mi bread rolls will have “Bahn Mi” in their name. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Google Translate is your friend </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">While your hotel staff will often speak good English, other vendors at restaurants or markets may not be as fluent. </p> <p dir="ltr">Downloading the Google Translate app on your phone will allow you to communicate with locals quickly and easily, by typing in what you want to say in English, and letting the app read out the sentence in Vietnamese. </p> <p dir="ltr">Also, the app’s camera feature lets you hover your smartphone camera over something written in Vietnamese, before translating it into English in seconds. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Beware of scams</strong> </p> <p dir="ltr">One of the most common scams in Vietnam is taxi scams. Some people will claim to be a taxi and then jack up the prices once they take you to your destination. </p> <p dir="ltr">To avoid this, only get in registered taxis (that actually look like taxis and not just a random car), and download Grab, which is the Vietnamese version of Uber and is just as easy to use. </p> <p dir="ltr">Another common scam is for market vendors to hike up prices for food and souvenirs, so be ready to barter for a better price. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Make friends with the locals </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The Vietnamese people are some of the loveliest, kindest and most accommodating in the world. </p> <p dir="ltr">People on the street, hotel staff and restaurant workers are always happy to help you with queries or concerns, so make the most of their local knowledge and don’t be afraid to approach people with a smile. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

International Travel

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Does British tourism really need the royal family?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ross-bennett-cook-1301368">Ross Bennett-Cook</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-westminster-916">University of Westminster</a></em></p> <p>Love them or loathe them, the royal family are up there with red telephone boxes and scones when it comes to images of Britishness. Souvenir shops are full of their faces, newspapers across the world discuss them, and <a href="https://www.euronews.com/culture/2022/09/13/netflixs-the-crown-skyrockets-in-popularity-following-the-queens-death">television dramas</a> based on their lives have never been more popular.</p> <p>Whenever people are critical of the royal family, the oft-repeated retort is “but think of the tourism!”. This has been particularly common rhetoric recently, as <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/royal-family/who-paid-for-coronation-b2334669.html">many people question</a> how a country facing mass strikes and a crippling cost of living crisis can afford the estimated <a href="https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/explained/how-much-king-charles-iii-coronation-cost-who-pays-for-it/">£100 million</a> cost of King Charles III’s coronation.</p> <p>In a recent <a href="https://yougov.co.uk/topics/arts/survey-results/daily/2023/04/18/25178/3">YouGov poll</a>, 51% did not believe the coronation should be paid for by taxpayers. For young people, this figure was even higher, at 62%. But supporters will often use <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/charles-iii-ap-coronation-buckingham-palace-elizabeth-ii-b2326220.html">tourism</a> as justification for lavish expenses.</p> <p>The royal family does bring tourism to the UK. The economic consultancy Centre for Economics and Business Research <a href="https://cebr.com/reports/uk-economy-raises-a-glass-to-337-million-coronation-boost-from-tourism-and-pub-activity/">estimated</a> that the coronation weekend would lead to a £337 million boost from tourism and pub spending.</p> <p>But if the royal family were to disappear, would the UK’s tourism industry suddenly implode?</p> <p>2011 research by <a href="https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukgwa/20140722183820/http://www.visitbritain.org/mediaroom/archive/2011/vbrwwedding.aspx">Visit Britain</a> found that around 60% of tourists to the UK are likely to visit places associated with the royal family. While there is no more recent specifically royal data, in 2022 Visit Britain found that history and heritage was the biggest <a href="https://www.visitbritain.org/MIDAS-research-project">pull factor to tourists</a>.</p> <p>And while the <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1468797606071477">international perception</a> of Britain is certainly intertwined with the royal family, this does not tell us whether a reigning royal family is necessary for tourism. After all, the history surrounding the monarchy and places associated with them would still be here even if the royal family was not. Ottoman palaces of Istanbul remain <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/most-visited-castles-palaces/index.html">wildly popular</a> attractions 100 years since the collapse of the caliphate, as are the royal châteaus of France or imperial palaces of China.</p> <p>Lack of royalty does not seem to have affected these countries’ appeal, each of which attract <a href="https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/epdf/10.18111/wtobarometereng.2020.18.1.7">more tourists</a> annually than the UK.</p> <h2>A special relationship</h2> <p>The USA is the UK’s <a href="https://www.visitbritain.org/inbound-tourism-trends-old">largest tourist market</a>, and <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/royal-family/2023/05/05/coronation-american-tourists-britain-boom-royal-family-usa/">American tourists</a> do seem to be very fond of things associated with British royalty.</p> <p>But this may change with the new monarch. In a <a href="https://today.yougov.com/topics/entertainment/articles-reports/2021/02/17/british-royals-popular-america-poll">poll taken in February 2021</a>, before the death of Queen Elizabeth II, a whopping 68% of Americans viewed her favourably. The same poll found only 34% had a favourable opinion of Charles – but this has changed in his favour following his accession to the throne, according to a <a href="https://today.yougov.com/topics/international/articles-reports/2023/05/05/americans-think-british-royal-family-charles">poll taken before the coronation</a> which gave him a 50% approval rating in the US. That said, 62% of people in the US said they did not care about the coronation very much or at all.</p> <p>Outside America, the UK’s next largest tourist groups have significantly less interest in the royal family. The holiday firm <a href="https://www.traveldailymedia.com/study-reveals-importance-of-royal-family-to-uk-tourism-industry/">Travelzoo</a> found in 2016 that just 19% of German, 15% of French and only 10% of Spanish travellers want to come to the UK because of the British monarchy.</p> <h2>Where do tourists go?</h2> <p>Typically, when commentators discuss the royal contributions to tourism, they talk about significant events such as weddings, jubilees, coronations and funerals. Even though these events attract huge crowds, they happen rarely and are unrepresentative of the tourism industry as a whole. Research <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/13548166211004361">has found</a> that royal weddings massively improve a country’s image and brand awareness, but are not comparable to major mega events such as the Fifa World Cup, the Super Bowl or the Olympics.</p> <p>Even though royal places are popular, they are far from our most popular attractions. Of Britain’s <a href="https://www.visitbritain.org/annual-survey-visits-visitor-attractions-latest-results">ten most visited</a> free and paid-for attractions in 2021, none were royal attractions. The <a href="https://www.visitbritain.org/sites/default/files/vb-corporate/top_20_listings.pdf">highest ranking</a> royal attraction was the Tower of London, making only 17th on the list.</p> <p>Typically, Chester Zoo attracts more visitors than Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace, although these statistics do not differentiate between domestic and international tourists. In the most recent <a href="https://www.windsor.gov.uk/dbimgs/Windsor%202017%20Visitor%20Survey%20final%20report%2028_11_17.pdf">Windsor visitor survey</a>, the majority of its tourists came from overseas.</p> <p>Anti-monarchy group <a href="https://www.republic.org.uk/tourism">Republic</a> has disputed the widely cited figure that the monarchy generates £500 million in tourism income for the UK annually – which itself would be only a small fraction of Britain’s £127 billion tourism economy.</p> <p>The group also questions why royalty <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hL9yDOK48A">barely feature</a> on British tourism campaigns or advertisements, if they are so vital to the tourism economy.</p> <p>It is impossible to deny that royalty adds to the UK’s appeal as a tourist destination – the history and associated heritage is famous worldwide. However, what is questionable is whether a reigning monarchy is necessary for this attractiveness to continue.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/205158/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ross-bennett-cook-1301368"><em>Ross Bennett-Cook</em></a><em>, Visiting Lecturer, School of Architecture + Cities, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-westminster-916">University of Westminster</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-british-tourism-really-need-the-royal-family-205158">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Tax boost announced for 1.2 million people

<p>Low-income earners will receive a tax boost with the Medicare levy threshold set to rise. </p> <p>The income threshold at which taxpayers will have to pay a two per cent Medicare levy will increase by 7.1 per cent, in line with inflation. </p> <p>Currently single people who earn below $24,276 do not have to pay the levy. Under the changes, the two per cent levy only has to be paid by anyone earning over <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">$26,000</span></p> <p>The <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Medicare levy </span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">threshold for seniors and pensioners will increase to $41,089, up from the initial benchmark of $38,365. </span></p> <p>For families, this threshold has increased to $43,486 up from the previous $40,939. </p> <p>Treasurer Jim Chalmers said that the increase was part of the broader measures taken to relieve the increase in cost-of-living. </p> <p>“This will ensure people on lower incomes continue to pay less or are exempt from the Medicare levy,”  he said on Tuesday. </p> <p>“It means 1.2 million Australians get to keep a bit more of what they earn.”</p> <p>The boost in the Medicare levy threshold was announced alongside changes to income tax cuts, with those earning under $150,000 set to receive greater benefits. </p> <p>“This is about doing what we responsibly can to ease some of the pressure being felt by Australians right around the country, but especially for people on lower incomes, young people, seniors and women,” Chalmers said.</p> <p>This comes just days after Medicare celebrated it's 40th anniversary, with an exhibition launched at Parliament House.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Stage 3 stacks up: the rejigged tax cuts help fight bracket creep and boost middle and upper-middle households

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ben-phillips-98866">Ben Phillips</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p>The winners and losers from the Albanese government’s <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2024-01/tax-cuts-government-fact-sheet.pdf">rejig</a> of this year’s Stage 3 tax cuts have already been well documented.</p> <p>From July 1 every taxpayer will get a tax cut. Most, the 11 million taxpayers earning up to A$146,486, will also pay less tax than they would have under the earlier version of Stage 3, some getting a tax cut <a href="https://theconversation.com/albanese-tax-plan-will-give-average-earner-1500-tax-cut-more-than-double-morrisons-stage-3-221875">twice as big</a>.</p> <p>A much smaller number, 1.8 million, will get a smaller tax cut than they would have under the original scheme, although their cuts will still be big. The highest earners will get cuts of $4,529 instead of $9,075.</p> <p>But many of us live in households where income is shared and many households don’t pay tax because the people in them don’t earn enough or are on benefits.</p> <p>The Australian National University’s <a href="https://csrm.cass.anu.edu.au/research/policymod">PolicyMod</a> model is able to work out the impacts at the household level, including the impact on households in which members are on benefits or don’t earn enough to pay tax.</p> <h2>More winners than losers in every broad income group</h2> <p>We’ve divided Australian households into five equal-size groups ranked by income, from lowest to lower-middle to middle to upper-middle to high.</p> <p>Our modelling finds that, just as is the case for individuals, many more households will be better off with the changes to Stage 3 than would have been better off with Stage 3 as it was, although the difference isn’t as extreme.</p> <p>Overall, 58% of households will be better off with the reworked Stage 3 than they would have under the original and 11% will be worse off.</p> <p>Importantly, there remain 31% who will be neither better off nor worse off, because they don’t pay personal income tax.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="0CWXE" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/0CWXE/4/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>But it is different for different types of households.</p> <p>In the lowest-earning fifth of households, far more are better off (13.5%) than worse off (0.2%) with the overwhelming bulk neither better nor worse off (86.3%).</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="KC5zy" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/KC5zy/3/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>In the highest-earning fifth of households, while more than half are better off (54.4%), a very substantial proportion are worse off (42.3%).</p> <p>Very few (only 3.1%) are neither better nor worse off.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="WSkSL" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/WSkSL/3/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>But high-earning households go backwards on average</h2> <p>In dollar terms, the top-earning fifth of households loses money while every group gains. That’s because although there are more winners than losers among the highest-earning fifth of households, the losers lose more money.</p> <p>The biggest dollar gains go to middle and upper-middle income households with middle-income households ahead, on average, by $988 per year and upper-middle income households by $1,102. The highest-income households are worse off by an average of $837 per year.</p> <p>As a percentage of income, middle-income households gain the most with a 1% increase in disposable income. Lowest income households gain very little, while the highest-income households go backwards by 0.3%.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="kAPmC" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/kAPmC/3/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>The rejig does a better job of fighting bracket creep</h2> <p>And we’ve found something else.</p> <p>The original version of the Stage 3 tax cuts was advertised as a measure to overcome <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-2-main-arguments-against-redesigning-the-stage-3-tax-cuts-are-wrong-heres-why-221975">bracket creep</a>, which is what happens when a greater proportion of taxpayers’ income gets pushed into higher tax brackets as incomes climb.</p> <p>We have found it wouldn’t have done it for most of the income groups, leaving all but the highest-earning group paying more tax after the change in mid-2024 than it used to in 2018.</p> <p>The rejigged version of Stage 3 should compensate for bracket creep better, leaving the top two groups paying less than they did in 2018 and compensating the bottom three better than the original Stage 3.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="YG0cT" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/YG0cT/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>Not too much should be made of the increase in tax rates in the lowest income group between 2018 ad 2024 because some of it reflects stronger income growth.</p> <p>We find that overall, the redesigned Stage 3 does a better job of offsetting bracket creep than the original. It is also better targeted to middle and upper-middle income households.</p> <p>Having said that, the average benefit in dollar terms isn’t big. At about $1,000 per year for middle and upper-middle income households and costing the budget about what the original Stage 3 tax cuts would have cost, its inflationary impact compared to the original looks modest.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221851/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ben-phillips-98866"><em>Ben Phillips</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, Centre for Social Research and Methods, Director, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/stage-3-stacks-up-the-rejigged-tax-cuts-help-fight-bracket-creep-and-boost-middle-and-upper-middle-households-221851">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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"Proud to pay more": The billionaires who want to pay more tax

<p>Over 250 millionaires and billionaires have issued an <a href="https://proudtopaymore.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">open letter</a> to global leaders encouraging them to implement wealth taxes to combat the cost-of-living crisis. </p> <p>This comes just as a report by the <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/money-banking/shocking-amount-australia-s-richest-people-earn-per-hour" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Oxfam Charity</a> revealed that the global wealth of billionaires have only grown in the last three years despite inflation. </p> <p>The open letter, signed by super-rich individuals from 17 countries, includes signatories like Abigail Disney, the grand-niece of Walt Disney, <em>Succession </em>actor Brian Cox, and American philanthropist and Rockefeller family heir Valerie Rockefeller.</p> <p>They said that they would be "proud to pay more taxes" in order to address the  inequality.</p> <p>"Elected leaders must tax us, the super rich,"  the letter read. </p> <p>"This will not fundamentally alter our standard of living, nor deprive our children, nor harm our nations' economic growth.</p> <p>"But it will turn extreme and unproductive private wealth into an investment for our common democratic future."</p> <p>Austrian heir Marlene Engelhorn is also among the voices demanding that they pay more in taxes.</p> <p>"I've inherited a fortune and therefore power, without having done anything for it. And the state doesn't even want taxes on it,"  Engelhorn, who inherited millions from her family who founded chemical giant BASF, said.</p> <p>The letter was released just as global leaders gather in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.</p> <p>Abigail Disney, whose net-worth is measured at more than $100 million, said that lawmakers need to come together to make a meaningful economic and social change. </p> <p>"There's too much at stake for us all to wait for the ultra rich to grow a conscience and voluntarily change their ways," she said.</p> <p>"For that reason, lawmakers must step in and tax extreme wealth, along with the variety of environmentally destructive habits of the world's richest."</p> <p>A recent <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/63fe48c7e864f3729e4f9287/t/6596bfb943707b56d11f1296/1704378297933/G20+Survey+of+those+with+More+than+%241+million+on+Attitudes+to+Extreme+Wealth+and+Taxing+the+Super+Rich.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">survey</a> of almost 2400 millionaires found that 74 per cent of them supported the introduction of a wealth tax to fund improved public services and deal with the cost-of-living crisis.</p> <p>The open letter also said that one-off donations and philanthropy "cannot redress the current colossal imbalance" of societal wealth.</p> <p>"We need our governments and our leaders to lead," the letter said. </p> <p>"The true measure of a society can be found, not just in how it treats its most vulnerable, but in what it asks of its wealthiest members."</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Sustainable tourism needs to be built with the help of locals

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alfonso-vargas-sanchez-1205745">Alfonso Vargas Sánchez</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universidad-de-huelva-3977">Universidad de Huelva</a></em></p> <p>In the wake of the pandemic, tourism is experiencing a period of transition in which <a href="https://theconversation.com/el-futuro-del-turismo-inteligente-digital-y-sostenible-153965">two trends</a> which were already prevalent pre Covid-19 have gained momentum:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Sustainability, together with climate change, the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda.</p> </li> <li> <p>Digitalization, together with the new technological revolution.</p> </li> </ul> <p>If we focus on sustainability – whilst still emphasizing that technological ecosystems are essential for the development of tourism – we have to be aware that making sustainable that which has not been designed as such (a destination, a resort, a mode of transport, etc.) is not easy, fast or affordable. This is especially true since, rather than conforming to standards, labels or certifications, we must change our relationship with the environment in order to be sustainable, rather than just appearing to be so.</p> <h2>Sustainability must be economical, environmental and social</h2> <p>When a term is used so frequently, its meaning tends to become diluted. In fact, in this case, the term sustainable tourism is increasingly being replaced by regenerative tourism.</p> <p><a href="https://doughnuteconomics.org/">Not all aspects of sustainability</a> are addressed with equal emphasis. Economic sustainability is taken for granted and environmental sustainability is taken into immediate consideration, while social sustainability is put on the back burner (see, among many others, <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/is-the-party-over-in-the-balearics-b9qw9j7qp">the case of Ibiza and the cost of housing</a>).</p> <p>If there is to be true social sustainability, which in turn drives economic and environmental sustainability, the governance of tourism has to evolve.</p> <p>Before the pandemic, and in the post-pandemic period, news related to the sustainability of tourism appeared in the media.</p> <p>Negative attitudes towards tourism are once again prevalent, although in reality these are not directed against tourism itself but against certain models of tourism development, the product of a certain governance where it is important to take a look at who makes decisions and how.</p> <p>More than a one-off phenomenon, the problem of mass tourism is being tackled with various types of measures, such as the following:</p> <ul> <li> <p>The use of fiscal measures(e.g. <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_tax">ecotaxes</a>).</p> </li> <li> <p>Limiting the capacity of certain spaces (or even temporarily closing them).</p> </li> <li> <p>The use of the variable prices to regulate demand.</p> </li> <li> <p>The use of technological tools that assist in redirecting tourist flows, in an attempt to disperse the masses to other attractions that are not overcrowded (assuming that those affected wish to do so).</p> </li> <li> <p>The sanctioning of certain behaviour.</p> </li> <li> <p>Limiting accommodation options.</p> </li> </ul> <p>The case of <a href="https://www.euronews.com/travel/2023/06/22/sardinia-popular-beaches-protected-with-towel-bans-pre-booked-tickets-and-entry-fees">the island of Sardinia and its beaches</a> is perhaps less well known than others, but very telling in this context.</p> <h2>Appreciating tourism</h2> <p>The positive attitude of the population towards the impact of tourism development in their area may change significantly if <a href="https://theconversation.com/saturacion-turistica-un-problema-global-creciente-100778">the negative impact is perceived as outweighing the positive effects of it</a>.</p> <p>This happens when the tolerance level of the local community is exceeded and tourism no longer contributes positively to their quality of life. The problem arises when those who live there permanently begin to feel that friction with tourists disturbs and damages their lives to excess.</p> <p>When no one asks them, listens to them, takes them into account and decisions are made that severely affect their lives, it is not surprising that citizens turn against tourism when, in reality, the problem is not tourism, but the management of it.</p> <p>It is only by involving these communities in decision-making that we will find the missing link in tourism governance.</p> <p>Today, we usually speak of co-governance rather than governance. In other words, public-private partnership: a two-way governance which, although necessary, is not sufficient because they alone are not the only stakeholders involved.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/como-superar-el-efecto-guggenheim-196421">A partnership with citizens</a>, in a broad sense, is essential to ensure their welfare and to avoid or reverse the trend of disconnection with tourism activities.</p> <p>The point is that tourism is required as an economic activity that affects the entire community, and the latter is something that seems to be missing or unwilling to be addressed. Tourism should not be created by political and business representatives without the local people, but with them. That’s the big difference.</p> <p>There is an added complexity, particularly in terms of legitimacy, in identifying the representatives of stakeholders in the territory and establishing effective participation mechanisms – not only with a voice, but also with a vote in certain decisions. However, this is the best way to support the tourism industry and to overcome mistrust and detachment.</p> <p>We must move towards inclusive and integrative governance, with <a href="https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284420841">a three-pronged approach</a>: public, private and community, whose study and application are virtually unknown fields.</p> <p>The question is not so much of what to do, but how to do it: a new model of shared leadership must include a redistribution of power within the system, which will require an extra effort to break down barriers and overcome resistance.</p> <h2>Co-governance and well-being</h2> <p>To avoid negative attitudes towards tourism, and promote harmonious relationships between locals and visitors as a path to sustainability, tourism must be able to forge a broad alliance with society.</p> <p>It is not about managing a destination, but a community with permanent residents and tourists, the latter being understood as temporary residents. The well-being of both must be at the core of the governance architecture.</p> <p>Although there is usually short-sightedness in political decisions – marked by electoral horizons – and in business decision-making – especially if they are geared towards speculation and immediate returns – the lack of support from the local population will end up generating a boomerang effect.</p> <p>Do we know the type of tourism development desired (or tolerated) by host communities? Are the voices of the local population heard and taken into account in the decision making processes, with a view to their well-being? Local communities have a much more decisive role to play in consolidating democracies. A tourism-oriented society must be geared towards tourism and committed to its development and co-creation.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. 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More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alfonso-vargas-sanchez-1205745"><em>Alfonso Vargas Sánchez</em></a><em>, Catedrático de Universidad, área de Organización de Empresas, Dirección Estratégica, Turismo (empresas y destinos) - Jubilado, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universidad-de-huelva-3977">Universidad de Huelva</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/sustainable-tourism-needs-to-be-built-with-the-help-of-locals-211296">original article</a>.</em></p>

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