Paula Bennett rejects calls for tourist tax

Overseas tourists won't be hit with a tax under Paula Bennett's watch - at least not anytime soon.

The Tourism Minister has said she "doesn't like" the idea of taxing foreign tourists because New Zealand is already expensive enough.

More than 18 million visitors come through the gates at Auckland Airport each year and Mayor Phil Goff says local government can't cope with the tourism boom.

Instead, he says a tax could help.

"Ideally the Government could put on a bed tax across the country and a small arrival tax and share it amongst local Government - that would be most equitable," he told Newshub.

But Ms Bennett has scuttled that, saying she's not a fan. She says tourists already pay tax via GST, and she's worried further taxes might deter travellers.

"We've got the best package in the world to deliver but we don't want to be seen as a rip off," she said.

But Green Party co-leader James Shaw disagreed. 

"I don't think New Zealand is going to be perceived as a rip off. It is an absolute premium destination, as you can tell from the visitor numbers," he said. 

Tourists already pay a border charge of between $22 and $26 and the Greens say that should be increased to help pay for infrastructure.

Taranaki-based tourism guide, Rob Needs, says the Government needs to help market more than the usual hotspots.

He says other areas have the infrastructure but aren't getting the numbers.

"Queenstown, Taupo, Rotorua - those kinds of places have significant demand on them and a lot of their infrastructure is under pressure," he said.

"I think some encouragement to visit places like Taranaki could ease the burden on some of those places." 

Ms Bennett accepts there is pressure in some areas as a result of booming visitor numbers, but says it's covered by the regional tourism fund, which has put forward $8.5 million to fund public toilets, car parking and freedom camping facilities. 



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