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Local Government NZ backs tourism levy

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/12/2016 Sophie Boot
Image of the South Island © JACQULINE LE Image of the South Island

New Zealand's spending on tourism infrastructure needs to increase and it isn't realistic to expect ratepayers to foot the bill, especially in smaller towns reliant on tourists such as Franz Josef, says Lawrence Yule, president of Local Government NZ and mayor of Hastings District Council.

At a quarterly LGNZ briefing in Wellington, Yule pointed to a report last month from Air New Zealand, Auckland International Airport, Christchurch International Airport and Tourism Holdings as a way forward.

That report called for the creation of a National Tourism Infrastructure Levy, with industry and central government contributions, raising $130 million a year to fund local tourism infrastructure needs.

"There's an under investment going on and if we wish to maximise our tourism opportunity we need to look at doing things very differently," Yule said. "I think everybody gets that we need to change the system."

The report last month proposed that the tourism industry should raise $65m in new revenues from the bed tax and a $5 increase in the current border clearance levy of around $20 per person, and that central government should match that funding dollar-for-dollar to produce $130m a year "to develop mixed local use tourism infrastructure".

The levy proposal would help small communities swamped by the international tourism boom to provide sufficient basic infrastructure, including public toilets, car parks, and footpaths.

In 20 local council areas, about $100m of immediate investment is required, it said.

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