NZILA President welcomes the planned tourist tax

The proposed tourism levy, the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) has been greeted positively by the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects.  President Brad Coombs says it makes sense that if implemented, the $57-$80 million collected would be targeted towards the protection of conservation values and the provision of additional tourism infrastructure to manage the increased pressure on those resources.

The Government has announced plans for an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy of between $25 and $35. It’ll apply to most foreigners entering New Zealand for 12 months or less. It won’t apply to Australians, Pacific Forum countries, transit passengers, some business travellers, children under two or diplomats.

 The NZILA president says the planned tourism levy makes sense if it helps conserve popular tourist spots like Lake Tekapo pictured here. 

The NZILA president says the planned tourism levy makes sense if it helps conserve popular tourist spots like Lake Tekapo pictured here. 

“Paying between $25 and $35 for access to the conservation estate seems like a pretty good return on investment to me,” Coombs said. “We can’t charge someone a fee for stepping out of their tent and going for a walk up the mountain so the money to look after the landscapes in our conservation areas has to come from somewhere.

“If income is generated from a levy of this nature it needs to be ring-fenced and specifically targeted for those reasons (conservation and tourism infrastructure).”

At the moment it’s up to local bodies and communities to provide tourist amenities like toilets and parking areas.

 Aoraki Mt Cook is another of the areas which could benefit from a planned tourism levy.

Aoraki Mt Cook is another of the areas which could benefit from a planned tourism levy.

Coombs says some of the least populated districts of Aotearoa, such as Tekapo and the Ruapehu District, have some of the most spectacular landscape and scenery values in the country. “The small ratepayer bases struggle to accommodate the pressures of tourism and to protect the landscape values - often the very reason why they’re so popular.”

Tourism minister Kelvin Davis said the levy, collected through visa applications and an Electronic Travel Authority at the border, was intended to ease the cost burden on communities. He acknowledges many regions are struggling to cope and need improved infrastructure urgently.

 The tourism minister has acknowledged many regions are struggling to cope with the effects of high tourist numbers. 

The tourism minister has acknowledged many regions are struggling to cope with the effects of high tourist numbers. 

“It’s only fair that (tourists) make a small contribution so that we can help provide the infrastructure they need and better protect the natural places they enjoy” he said.

Submissions can be made on the levy until July 15. It’s expected to be implemented in the second half of next year.