Sunday , July 22 2018
Woman enjoys spectacular morning views of Auckland city

Auckland visitor levy unfair and ill-conceived: TIA

A proposed new visitor levy for Auckland unfairly targets accommodation providers and fails to take account of the economic benefits tourism brings, Tourism Industry Aotearoa says.

“It is inequitable to target commercial accommodation providers when the benefits of tourism are spread throughout Auckland’s economy,” TIA chief executive Chris Roberts says.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff is proposing a targeted rate on accommodation providers. The revenue captured through a levy is forecast to be $20-$30 million a year.

“It is wrong of the Mayor to suggest that visitors are not already paying their way,” Mr Roberts says. “Auckland is benefitting more than any other part of New Zealand from the tourism boom – and the benefits flow throughout Auckland’s economy.”

Tourism spend in the last year in Auckland was $7.37 billion, an increase of $1.519 billion or 26 percent in the past two years. Domestic spend was $3.414 billion (up 12.5 percent in the last two years), and international spend was $3.956 billion (up 41 percent).

“Of the total annual tourism spend in Auckland of $7.37 billion, just 10.5 percent or $771m was spent on accommodation. That shows how widely distributed the tourism dollar is, benefitting the wider Auckland economy and its residents.

“Tourism is a huge success story for Auckland – the Council should be supporting its continued growth, not trying to fleece the golden goose.”

The narrow focus of the proposed new rate also fails to fulfil the stated goal of getting a direct contribution from visitors to Auckland.

“It ignores the hundreds of thousands of visitors to Auckland who stay with friends and family, or rent private holiday homes, or use shared accommodation services like Airbnb.

“Commercial accommodation providers are not only unfairly singled out, but will face additional administration costs to collect the proposed rate. And it cannot be assumed in a competitive market that they will be able to pass the costs onto their customers.

“We look forward to thorough consultation with all affected parties before any decisions are made about this new rate, including how the revenue would be spent. A range of other funding mechanisms are available to achieve the council’s aims and we look forward to discussing those with Mr Goff,” Mr Roberts says.

“Neither our commercial accommodation providers, nor our visitors, should be treated as cash cows.”

About Suzy Barry

Suzy Barry
Suzy Barry is the editor of Accom Management Guide, New Zealand. She brings over a decade of editing and journalism to the title, and has experience in wellness tourism.


  1. Suzy Barry

    Comment received via email from Jen, Heritage Park Lodge:

    Thank you for the newsletter. I do not know if this is the right place to send this but just a few thoughts about the Auckland Tourism Visitor Levy. If this levy came in in Auckland it would quickly spread around the country.
    Only mention has been made of hotels, motels and B&Bs being levied for this tax.
    We have a motel in Haast (West Coast SI) and we have hundreds of campervans freedom camping in the wider Haast area over night during the tourist season. Across the road from us is a public toilet and rubbish bins. These facilities are paid for by the commercial ratepayer. These campervans park up outside the toilets and and use the facilities to wash their clothes, dishes and also have showers standing in the basin area of the toilets. They carry a hand held rubber shower hose that fits the taps and as these toilets have hot water it is perfect for a shower. They do not care that water is flowing all over the floor. They have a cook up and dump all their rubbish in or at the bins. As there is a “No Camping” sign in the car park they then move onto the beach or elsewhere for the night.
    Are these campervans, station wagons, cars – both self contained and not self contained not accommodation providers? How does Auckland Council propose to levy these type of visitors? They are the users of the infrastructure that is needed but will not be paying anything towards it. Why should the hotels, motels and B&Bs pay for these services when they are already providing them to their own paying guests? These guests who will be levied will be paying for the freeloaders who stay in AirBnB, holiday homes, campervans, cruise ships etc who are not going to pay anything.
    Speaking to the cleaners of holiday homes in the Haast area, they all say that most people book in for 2pax but they usually clean up for 6-8pax the next day. As these holiday homes have absentee owners and booking is done online the owners do not see how many pax arrive.
    How do we levy the cyclist who freedom camps out each night – they are also big users of these toilets and rubbish bins.
    If the visitor levy was to be imposed then it would need to capture all of our visitors not just some. An option would be to put a visitor levy on the registration of campervans and this levy goes towards the infrastructure fund. Then the hirer of the campervan would be paying for this levy.
    There is talk that visitors already pay through GST . Do we receive all of the GST from foreign owed accommodation providers who get paid by their guests in a foreign country and the money never comes to NZ?
    The easiest option is to levy all at the boarder.

    • Suzy Barry

      Hi Jen,
      Thanks so much for your comment, and the TIA position is also that the tax would be unfairly targeting accom providers. Your point about accom providers then subsidising Freedom Campers and Airbnb and such is very interesting, and in line with many concerns from the industry. The quote I have pasted below might offer some small comfort that industry associations will expect more deliberation before such a tax passes. Suzy Barry

      “We look forward to thorough consultation with all affected parties before any decisions are made about this new rate, including how the revenue would be spent. A range of other funding mechanisms are available to achieve the council’s aims and we look forward to discussing those with Mr Goff,” Mr Roberts says.

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