Tourist industry backs new tax, despite warnings from National

Queenstown, a popular tourist destination.
Queenstown, a popular tourist destination. Photo credit: Getty

A tourism group believes the price of a new tourist levy is justified.

The Government has passed the new  $35 visitor tax for help pay for infrastructure and protecting our conservation.

Chris Roberts from Tourism Industry Aotearoa says it is the right amount.

"At $35 that shouldn't put people off from coming to New Zealand, so it's a good idea to set it at that level, rather than any lower level."

The new levy comes into effect next month. Australians and Pacific Island nationals are exempt.

But there's hope the Government will give more clarity over the new tourist levy soon.

"The legislation passed sets up the mechanism to collect the money. What's actually important is, how is it going to be spent? And we don't yet have those details."

Roberts says the government should be ambitious with its plan.

"We're talking tens of millions of dollars spent at one location to get it right, rather than spreading the money around and it not having any impact."

Around $450 million is expected to be generated over five years.

National said the tax would "deter tourism and hurt Kiwi businesses". But when John Key was Prime Minister, the party backed the idea.

"I don't think you can sustain going from 3 to 4 to 5 million tourists and not be, frankly, building more toilets and more facilities," he said at a tourism summit in 2016, just weeks before quitting politics.