Sunday , July 22 2018

Tax to save Aotearoa’s best-loved sites

The government will announce a tourist levy in the coming weeks to protect over-loved destinations and develop world-class visitor experiences.

Speaking in Dunedin last week, tourism minister Kelvin Davis told the media to expect a formal announcement within weeks.

It follows Labour’s 2017 election promise to introduce a $25 tourism charge for international visitors.

The charge will result in a $75 million fund dedicated to creating facilities for visitors, with the government projecting it will attract more high-paying tourists.

It’s likely the tax will be added to airfares in a similar arrangement to the tax the government introduced in 2015 to cover the cost of border security.

“We are looking at a range of options,” Davis said. “We have pretty much worked out a number of issues, we will be making an announcement in the next few weeks.”

By 2024, international tourist numbers are expected to reach 5.1 million for New Zealand.

Our booming tourism industry is already feeling the pressure, with facilities like public toilets and car parks overflowing and complaints from locals proliferating about visitors damaging sensitive environments though overuse and a lack of care.

Davis last week acknowledged the issues, saying: “I don’t want our environmental and tourist reputation damaged.”

In a January 2018 survey, 90 percent of Kiwis agreed international tourism was good for the economy, but 44 percent expressed concern about the strain the influx was putting on the environment.

Internationally, cities including Amsterdam, Paris and New York have introduced tourism taxes to help manage the flow of visitors.

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