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NZ too expensive for tourist tax: Bennett

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/04/2017

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett says she doesn't support a tourist tax because New Zealand is already "really expensive to visit".

Local Government New Zealand last month said nearly $1.4 billion would be needed for new public toilets, car parks, camping facilities and other basic infrastructure if the tourism industry is to keep up with booming arrival numbers.

The call came amid widespread media reports of an international tourist relieving themselves in a Dunedin street and was accompanied by a call for urgent decisions both to allow councils to develop new funding sources beyond property rates and user-pays charges.

Asked whether she would support a tourist tax Ms Bennett, also the Tourism Minister, told TVNZ's Q+A she personally wasn't a big fan.

"Because we're really expensive to visit," she said.

"I don't mind us being expensive at all. I think that we are unique.

"We've got just the best package in the world to deliver to them, but I don't want to be seen as a rip-off."

But she said the government recognised there was a challenge to be faced over a strain on infrastructure.

Ms Bennett said $12 million of funding the government had announced over the next three years to deal with the issue was "not going to be it", and was being looked at as part of the budget.

LGNZ chief executive Malcolm Alexander last month said the current level of government funding was "not sufficient".

Tourists already helped the country by paying GST and propping up jobs, Ms Bennett said .

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