Tourist towns want more cash

Lake Tekapo (Getty)
Lake Tekapo (Getty)

Councils in tourist hotspots want more money than they can get from rates to pay for infrastructure.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) says towns like Tekapo and Franz Josef, which only have a few hundred permanent residents, can't afford to maintain roads and public toilets used by tens of thousands of tourists every year.

"Small communities with iconic tourist environments have to fund an infrastructure far greater than that which is necessary for themselves," says LGNZ vice-president and Mayor of Horowhenua, Brendan Duffy.

"I'm talking about toilets, rubbish disposal. Think of the tens of thousands of rolls of toilet paper that small communities purchase for others to use."

Despite readers of UK newspaper The Telegraph recently voting New Zealand as the best country in the world to visit, Mr Duffy fears tourists will choose go elsewhere if the infrastructure isn't up to scratch.

"Is it fair they should be burdened with massive infrastructure way beyond what other communities around New Zealand might have to [pay for]?"

Speaking to Paul Henry this morning, Mr Duffy said he wasn't sure how such a levy or tax would work.

"I'm sure there's a model in which it could be collected at the border and distributed appropriately."

LGNZ has also suggested using targeted taxes in tourist areas.

Visitors to Stewart Island have to pay a $5 levy, which is either added to the ticket price when flying or sailing there, or deposited manually at the local Southland District Council office.

It brings in about $150,000 a year to the southern island.