Tourist border tax planned

Kelvin Davis
Kelvin Davis

Taxing tourists at the border remains on the Labour-led Government's to-do list, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis says.

In his first major speech since taking on the portfolio, Mr Davis told a Tourism Industry Aotearoa conference in Wellington yesterday a levy on international tourists was one way of responding to the sudden growth in visitor numbers.

It would also ensure a sustainable source of funding for tourism infrastructure, conservation and training tourism sector workers.

``There has been substantial growth in the tourism sector over recent years that has exceeded expectations of both the private and public sector.

``As a consequence, shortfalls in services have emerged in some locations. We know the regions need improved tourism infrastructure, from toilet facilities to car parks to telecommunications.''

Announcing the policy in August, Labour's then-tourism spokesman Kris Faafoi said a $25 levy would raise an estimated $75million a year.

Sixty percent ($45million a year) would be used to grow the tourism industry and 40% ($30million a year) would be used to protect biodiversity and properly fund conservation.

Because Labour and New Zealand First's coalition agreement is silent on tourism, Labour's policy is expected to prevail.

Mr Davis said the Government's $1billion Provincial Growth Fund could help regions develop their tourism infrastructure.

Encouraging visitors to explore less-visited regions would ``relieve some of the pressure on the busiest spots''.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult has said he favoured a a locally-imposed visitor levy.



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