Vanessa van Uden.
Councillors should explore all options to fund the
proposed $50 million convention centre, including an increase
on commercial rates and an appeal to central government,
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden says.
Talk of a ''tourist tax'' to pay for the facility flared
yesterday and was met with caution by some Queenstown tourism
leaders, but the district's re-elected mayor told the
Otago Daily Times such talk was ''a storm in a tea
Asking what people thought about a visitor levy as an option
for funding the centre was clearly stated in community
consultation from the beginning, Ms van Uden said.
There were many discussions to be had ''and we're not going
to start charging $5 a head tomorrow,'' she said, in
reference to the $5-a-head visitor levy on Stewart Island.
The island's levy was easier to collect because there were
only two ways to arrive - by sea or air - and there were
small numbers of visitors, the mayor said.
''I firmly believe the rates differential system, in place
for years [in Queenstown Lakes], covers a lot of those extra
''I think a lot of our residential ratepayers don't actually
understand how the accommodation sector is paying a lump more
than residential ratepayers already and that goes to cover a
lot of the infrastructure costs.
''For something that's extra, like a convention centre, it's
something worth looking at, but there's a lot of fish-hooks
in it and we go in understanding we've got to deal with those
fish-hooks, but [we're] not saying it's a no-go because of
Ms van Uden said the council was focused on ensuring the cost
of the centre had ''the most minimal impact possible'' on
Ms van Uden said central government playing a part has always
been one of those options.
A draft letter to Prime Minister John Key was waiting for her
review and was the first step in seeking the Government's
financial support. How much the council would ask for would
Destination Queenstown chairman Mark Quickfall said the
multiplying factor of the proposed centre to the resort
needed to be reconfirmed first.
Queenstown will always be challenged with a small ratepayer
base having to fund infrastructure for visitors, not only a
convention centre, he said.
''Before introducing a tourist tax, all funding options need
to be considered and only if we are truly confident the
shortfall will be off set by the benefits.''
Queenstown Airport Corporation chief executive Scot Paterson
said yesterday an airport tax had been dismissed by the
Government as not being in the country's best interest.
''There's a risk and it's counterproductive,'' Mr Paterson
''We pay $2.7 million per year dividend and I think the
council are looking for another $3.2 million, the number I
believe [is] in the consultation document.''
Introducing an airport tax would require a change in
legislation and would not be attractive to passengers or
airlines, which might decide flights were not viable, or
divert services away from Queenstown, he said.