How does the tourism industry feel about the Govt's border tax?

Hiker standing on a rock near lake Mackenzie, Routeburn track, Fiordland National Park, Southland, New Zealand
Photo credit: Getty.

A new survey has shown that while most tourism businesses support the Government's tourism tax, a vocal minority are concerned it will damage New Zealand's reputation.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) has released its survey of New Zealand tourism businesses and their response to the proposed International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy.

Seventy eight percent of participants from across the country either support or are willing to conditionally support the border tax, while 18 percent oppose the potential $25-$35 tax.

"There is clearly a willingness to accept a border tax, but it really must be well targeted, it must act towards enhancing the visitor experience and addressing the areas of greatest need," said Chris Roberts, TIA Chief Executive.

Mr Roberts said the tax, which is expected to be introduced in late 2019, must be properly marketed to the world, and not make tourists feel as if they are burdens upon New Zealand.

That's a key concern of those who opposed the tax, who believe New Zealand's kind and welcoming reputation could be tarnished.

"We don't want to give would-be travellers the impression that we don't really want them coming and that we just see them as a cost. It is going to be important that we explain to people why they are being charged to come to New Zealand," said Mr Roberts.

He said the success of the tax would be determined by what the $57-80 million expected to be collected in the tax's first year is spent on.

The Government is currently considering spending 60 percent on tourism infrastructure, and the rest on conservation activities.

The majority of the 450 TIA members would like to see the money going towards key areas that include environmental management, public facilities and facilities on conservation land.

Mr Roberts said that is a massive shift away from a desire to see money invested into accommodation, which only received support from 30 percent of members.

The border tax was the third most preferred option to fund investment, gaining support by 60 percent of participants.

Reinvestment by the Government of some of the $1.5b collected annually in GST from international visitors was the most preferred choice with 80 percent support, followed closely by user fees and charges on facilities.

The border tax was, however, overwhelmingly more popular than a national wide bed tax that only had a 20 percent favourability with TIA members.

Mr Roberts said a bed tax could be a future option, but only after the success of the border tax had been judged.

Australians, Pacific Island Forum citizens and individuals with special visas will be exempt from the levy, which is proposed to be collected through an Electronic Travel Authority.

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