Asia Minute: New Zealand Tourist Tax to Fund Infrastructure and Conservation
The government of New Zealand is looking at a proposal to tax its tourists. The measure would tack on an arrival charge for most international visitors, but the proceeds would go beyond well marketing.
New Zealand’s government sees tourism as a growth industry, and a potential source of more revenue.
The Tourism Ministry wants to charge most visitors the equivalent of between 17 and 24 U.S. dollars. Residents of Australia and most Pacific Forum nations would be exempt, but most other folks stopping for less than a year would pay.
The government says the tax would raise about 55 million dollars in its first year.
But unlike Hawai‘i’s Tourism Accommodation Tax, none of the money will go to a marketing operation and none will be used for a rail project.
The plan in New Zealand is to split that revenue between tourism infrastructure and conservation. Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis points out that rapid growth of the visitor industry has taken a toll on parks, and other public spaces. He says, “Many regions are struggling to cope and urgently need improved infrastructure.”
As for the tourists, he says “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.”
According to government figures, New Zealand has seen a 30-percent increase in tourism since 2015, and expects visitor arrivals to top five million within 6 years.
That new tax would start in the middle of next year.