International visitor levy consultation opens
Plans to ease the cost burden on communities and ratepayers for tourism-related infrastructure through a proposed a levy on international visitors have been announced by Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis today.
The levy would be collected through visa applications and a proposed Electronic Travel Authority. Australians and people from most Pacific Island Forum countries would be exempt.
“New Zealand is an extraordinary destination for tourists and our rising tourist numbers bear out the popularity of our unique country. But with success comes a burden,” said Kelvin Davis.
“This rapid growth has impacted on the costs and availability of publicly-provided infrastructure. Many regions are struggling to cope and urgently need improved infrastructure, from toilet facilities to carparks,” Kelvin Davis said.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said tourists would understand.
“Many visitors come to New Zealand to experience our unique and beautiful natural environment. I am sure they will be happy to help protect our special places,” Eugenie Sage said.
Kelvin Davis said the levy was needed.
“We need a smarter way to fund the great infrastructure tourists need to make the most of their time here. We want them to leave New Zealand with the best memories and part of that means providing the services they need to help them enjoy our country.
“It’s only fair that they make a small contribution so that we can help provide the infrastructure they need and better protect the natural places they enjoy.
“We’ve come up with an innovative collection model that would avoid disruption at our borders, while delivering a long-term funding base to support our tourism and conservation sectors.
“The previous government failed to invest in infrastructure to keep up with the tourism boom, and ignored calls to find a regular income stream for communities to cope with costs.
“This government is determined to support councils and operators so they can continue to prosper and provide the jobs this country needs.
“I would like to see this funding support the work government, councils and the sector will need to do to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth. This will be part of wider efforts to better manage tourism for the benefit of all,” Kelvin Davis said.
Key aspects of the proposal:
- Most international visitors entering New Zealand for 12 months or less would be charged a levy, proposed to be between $25 to $35
- There would be some exemptions, most notably Australian citizens and permanent residents and people from most Pacific Island Forum countries
- The levy would be collected through visa fees and via the proposed Electronic Travel Authority process, also under consultation, for citizens of visa waiver countries
- The levy would collect around $57-80 million in its first year, depending on the rate, which will be split between tourism infrastructure and conservation activity.
As the proposed levy will be required to go through a legislative process, it will likely be implemented in the second half of 2019.
Consultation on the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy is open from 15 June to 15 July, along with consultation on the Electronic Travel Authority and fees and levies proposals.
Information on all three consultations can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website: www.mbie.govt.nz/border-changes.