Visitor levy still viable, mayor says

Jim Boult.
Jim Boult.
A visitor levy drive will not be derailed by Prime Minister John Key's departure, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult says.

Mr Key, who is also Tourism Minister, announced his resignation on Monday, just weeks after his office said a decision on a visitor levy proposal would probably be made before next year's general election.

''I don't think it'll make any difference,'' Mr Boult said yesterday.

''I think there's a groundswell of opinion at government level to take a hard look at it, and hopefully a positive look at it.''

Mr Boult, a former Christchurch International Airport chief executive, paid tribute to Mr Key.

''He's been a fantastic prime minister. I couldn't speak highly enough of him, both as a person and a PM.''

The Queenstown Chamber of Commerce has completed a draft business case for a visitor levy in the town, but it is not expected to be submitted to the Government until early next year.

A study released last week called for a national tourism levy to contribute to a new $130million annual fund to improve local tourism infrastructure.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa will release its own national tourism infrastructure assessment early next year.

Chief executive Chris Roberts said of the Prime Minister's resignation, ''Mr Key has succeeded in ensuring the importance of the tourism industry to New Zealand's economy is recognised at the highest levels of government.

''He has also been a natural frontperson for New Zealand and this has presented some powerful opportunities to promote New Zealand overseas.''

david.williams@odt.co.nz

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