Tourism industry 'dismayed' at NZ Government decision to increase border crossing levies

Some charges have more than doubled.
Some charges have more than doubled. Photo credit: Getty Images

Tourism Industry Aotearoa says tourism operators will be "dismayed" that the cost to cross the New Zealand border is going up from December 1.

The New Zealand Customs Service and the Ministry for Primary Industries are significantly increasing the border processing levy (BPL). 

The BPL will increase from $20.11 to $43.73 per airline passenger return trip, and from $21.06 to $36.72 per cruise passenger; including GST. 

The BPL was introduced in 2016 and is used to fund customs and biosecurity services for all arriving and departing passengers, including New Zealanders. The cost recovery model ran into problems in 2020 when New Zealand's borders were closed and since then the Government has had to directly fund the agencies.

"We are surprised the BPL is going up before we know when our borders will actually open and what the demand for travel will be," TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says.

"The new fees are supposed to recover the full cost of the border services over the next three years, but it is impossible to accurately predict what the travel patterns will be."

Sunset in Queenstown New Zealand.
Photo credit: Getty Images

Having secure border services in a pandemic is a critical public health requirement and it is not sensible to reintroduce the full cost recovery model while border restrictions remain in place, Roberts says.

"Many tourism operators are grimly hanging on until borders reopen and visitors return, and any additional disincentive to travel at this time is unwelcome."

TIA had favoured delaying the resetting of the levy until September 2023, followed by a carefully staged return to a full cost recovery model matching the expected gradual recovery of international travel over the next five years.