Travellers may no longer have to apply for a passport at Australia Post, with the $100 billion tourism industry hoping to win the federal government tender worth about $120 million a year.
Pharmacists are also bidding for the work after Australia Post’s contract expires in June next year.
The government expects a surge in passport applications from the 1.8 million issued in 2014-15 to three million by 2019.
It is understood the government may allow the beefing up of online services to cope with the expected rise in passport applications, which have been handled by Australia Post for the past 30 years.
Luke Crawford, from travel agency representative Travelstartup, said he was bidding for the work to help divert customers from online travel agencies into bricks-and-mortar agencies.
“It will definitely help drive people into travel agencies; it will bring travellers back to the travel agents,” Mr Crawford said.
Business was getting tougher for bricks-and-mortar agencies facing competition from online travel agencies, Mr Crawford said. He attracted a lot of interest from agencies in bidding for the work.
Other travel agency owners said if they won the work they could identify when passports expired, thus driving more customers into their agencies.
While Australia Post is expected to re-tender for the work, Coles and Woolworths yesterday denied that they would bid.
Geoff Stockton, founder of the PRM Group that launched Pharmacy ID about a year ago, recently said more than 1500 pharmacies had signed up.
Mr Stockton recently told the online Pharmacy Daily bulletin that if a quarter of pharmacies signed up for the Pharmacy ID network “we will have a larger number of outlets than the current provider”.
Expressions of interest closed with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on April 27. It has told groups bidding for the work that it expects to decide who would move through to the tender process within 90 days.
Additional reporting: Eli Greenblat