Few fears over departure tax
By BRENDAN DELFINO
TRAVEL experts believe a rise in airport departure tax this year will not harm the industry because the territory has one of the lowest rates in Asia.
The tax was slashed by two-thirds by former financial secretary Sir Hamish Macleod in his 1994 budget under pressure from the travel sector, changing its status as one of the highest in the world.
Tour companies said at the time the $150 tax was turning tourists away.
But Murray Bailey of Travel Business Analyst magazine described the drastic cut as 'unusual' and believed a slight increase would not be noticed.
'Hong Kong's departure tax is lower than many other airports in Asia so it could go up without too many people complaining,' he said.
Simon Hau Suk-kei of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong suggested an increase to no more than $100 would not influence the flow of passenger traffic through Kai Tak airport.
'It is not that expensive for overseas travellers coming in because they are here to spend money as tourists but for outbound travellers some may dislike such an increase,' Mr Hau said.