Visitor levy won't hurt Auckland accommodation providers - Goff

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff (File)
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff (File)

New Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says a proposed visitor levy won't negatively impact tourism in the super city.

The $5-$10-per-night levy has been proposed at hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts. It could raise up to $30 million and take some burden off ratepayers, but it has been met with resistance from the tourism industry.

Mr Goff told the Paul Henry programme such a levy works in other countries.

"It's not an unusual thing. If you go to Rome, Berlin, Paris, New York, you'll pay a visitor levy.

"We've got an increase of a million extra bed nights in the last five years, we want the visitors to make some contribution towards the costs that we incur in providing accommodation and in providing the infrastructure for the city."

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts says it's unfair to target accommodation providers when the wider city benefited from tourism.

"Auckland is benefiting more than any other part of New Zealand from the tourism boom - and the benefits flow throughout Auckland's economy."

He says visitors only spend about 10 percent of their money on accommodation.

"It's a narrowly-defined rate that for some reason is only targeting commercial accommodation providers, when hundreds of thousands of people visit Auckland and stay with friends and family or stay with the likes of Airbnb. The idea is unfair in its concept."

Mr Goff says Airbnb "could be drawn into it as well".

"At the moment ratepayers are shouldering $20-30 million a year to promote tourism to Auckland and events... and the accommodation providers and other service providers are getting the benefit."

But Hospitality NZ's accommodation general manager Rachael Shadbolt says Council's focus is too narrow. 

"Given the reach of the tourism dollar into so many sectors of the economy it is unfair that only hotels, motels, apartments, backpackers and the likes, are being targeted." 

"Mayor Goff’s media release acknowledges that 'accommodation providers and other businesses benefit most directly from the funding Council puts into attracting visitors…', so why is he proposing a visitor levy that is only collected by the accommodation providers, what about the 'other businesses' he mentions."

Mr Goff says accommodation providers are not being charged.

"We're not putting it on them. It's the visitor that pays the levy, they're simply collecting it.

"Of course we get a benefit from tourism and that's why we promote it. But it also puts pressure on our already pressurised infrastructure and resources, and we're looking at sharing the cost of providing that extra infrastructure across a wider range of people and not just the long-suffering ratepayer."

Mr Goff says the visitor levy can be initiated by Auckland Council as a targeted rate.