New Zealand has proposed introducing a tourist tax of NZ$35 (£18) for visitors entering the country.
Expected to come into force in late 2019, the tax’s purpose is to ensure tourists “contribute to the infrastructure they use and help protect the natural environment they enjoy,” according to the New Zealand government website.
With tourism having increased by 8 per cent in 2017, according to New Zealand’s annual report, the surge in tourists combined with the tax is set to be highly profitable.
Simon Calder, travel correspondent for The Independent, said: “Plenty of countries have departure taxes – Australia brought one in in the 1980s. And many impose visa fees. But I’ve not heard of a blatant admission fee for a major tourism destination such as New Zealand.
“Relative to the airfare, and the amount that travellers typically spend in New Zealand, an extra £20 isn’t particularly significant. But the danger is that, as with Air Passenger Duty in the UK, the New Zealand Treasury will see the tax as easy money, and will soon increase it.”
Founder of New Zealand focused travel firm In Depth and specialist travel advisor, Paul Carberry, is supportive of the proposed tax. He said: “There has been a surge in tourism in New Zealand in the last four years and this understandably puts a strain on infrastructure.
“Reports show that money raised from this project will be directed towards this and the ongoing conservation of native New Zealand animal and plant species.
“These are all things that will ultimately benefit visitors and it’s great to see the New Zealand Government giving some targeted funding to the Department of Conservation and local operators.”
The money accumulated by the new tax will be spent on tourist amenities including car parks, toilets and walking track maintenance, and conservation projects such as native planting, breeding programmes and predator eradication. It is expected to raise up to NZ$80 million (£42 million) a year for these projects.
“It’s only fair that [visitors] make a small contribution so that we can help provide the infrastructure they need and better protect the natural places they enjoy,” said conservation minister Eugenie Sage.
Applying to the majority of travellers, the tax would exclude infants under two years’ old, Australian citizens, permanent residents, people from the Pacific Islands Forum countries and individuals on certain visas.
New Zealand’s popularity as a tourism destination has rapidly increased, in part because of its increasing appearance in films such as Lord of the Rings and, more recently, the Hobbit – one in five tourists cite the films as influencing their decision to visit the country, according to Tourism New Zealand.
It remains to be seen whether a tourist tax will put visitors off in future.
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