The travel industry has refused to collect passenger departure tax on behalf of airlines, claiming it will cause inconvenience and financial difficulty. The Board of Airlines Representatives and the Government agreed in mid-June, after a two-year review, that travel agents would collect the $50 tax. The tax - which is the airlines' responsibility - was to be included in the ticket price for passengers flying out of Hong Kong from September 1. The move would have brought procedures in line with those in the United States, Britain and Australia, the board said. However, the Travel Industry Council told agents yesterday they should not collect the tax. Council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung said the 'unilateral decision' by the airlines was unreasonable. 'It is between the airlines and the Government, not us. The Government has not asked travel agents to collect the tax. It is an added inconvenience to travel agent staff and a financial strain. 'Many customers have corporate accounts or work on a credit basis. They do not pay for tickets immediately. This means the agents will end up paying for them in advance, which may amount to $500,000 in some cases.' He said the council had proposed the use of vending machines at the airport, as in Japan, for customers to buy their own tax vouchers. Cathay Pacific said the measure was to streamline departure procedures. 'This will avoid queuing at the airport. Some passengers may not carry [enough] cash on them when they leave,' said spokesman Quince Chong Wai-yan. 'Now that we have moved to the new airport, we hope to provide passengers with more efficient services.' Until the matter is resolved, airlines would continue to collect the tax at check-in counters, the board said.