Government announces how international visitor levies will be spent on NZ's tourism industry

The Government says its visitor levy has collected $2 million since it was introduced six weeks ago - and on Wednesday it was announced just where that money will be spent.

International tourists have been paying $35 every time they enter New Zealand since July 1. However, the tourism industry's visitor numbers to the country have dropped. 

On Wednesday, Kelvin Davis announced how much money will be invested in the tourism industry.  

"The IVL will invest $18 million this year, and $42 million over five years in 10 tourism and conservation projects," says Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis.

Ten projects will receive the funding boost, including plans to develop Arthur's Pass, the sustainable management of Kākāpō and investment in Milford Sound. 

However, dwindling visitor numbers are concerning tourism leaders with an eight percent decline in the Chinese market.  

"The double-digit growth that New Zealand was experiencing could never go on forever, and we're definitely in a new phase for tourism in this country... a lower growth period. There's more uncertainty, more global uncertainty," says Chris Roberts, Tourism Industry Aotearoa's CEO.

The average Chinese tourist spends over $4000 per visit, the decline equating to a loss of at least $81 million to the economy.  

"Just talking to people here at the conference, they say they have been through this before and there's ups and downs. They know in a couple of years time, the numbers will go up again as they have in the past," says Davis.

Although the decline follows a global trend, numbers show in the case of Indian tourism, which is down 20 percent on last year, Visa wait times could be to blame. 

"We're certainly addressing that with immigration and the Minister at those levels, and hopefully we'll get those resolved because we should be getting better numbers with India," says Tourism Export Council CEO Judy Chenn. 

They will have to, if the Government hopes to reach its goal of improving tourist visits from 3.8 million last year, to five million by 2025.