Tourist levy unlikely as government fears losing out to Australia, Canada

Tourism Board chairwoman Kerry Prendergast said Chinese tourism has dropped off "significantly" in the last year

The government remains unconvinced on the merits of a tourist levy, with fears it could "turn off the tap" on New Zealand's largest export earner as Chinese tourist numbers drop.

At parliament's commerce select committee on Monday, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said central government had already stepped into new areas of funding such as carparking and footpaths in recognition of the importance of tourism to regional growth, but that a further levy was unlikely.

"I do seriously worry about the cost of getting to New Zealand, and some of our Chinese travel agents will say a package to New Zealand is more expensive than to Melbourne or to some places in Europe," Bennett said. "That's fine, I don't mind us being expensive, but that doesn't mean our standards are always the same. If that tap went off, that would literally lose jobs."

Ministry for Business, Employment and Innovation figures show Chinese tourism was worth $1.45 billion in the year to March 31, down 17 percent on a year earlier. The median Chinese tourist spent $3,000 while here, 18 percent less than a year earlier.

Tourism Board chair Kerry Prendergast told the committee that Chinese tourism has dropped off "significantly" in the last year. The government is watching for the outcomes of deals made by the Chinese government with Canada and Australia to promote tourism into those two countries ahead of 2019 when New Zealand's memorandum of understanding with China kicks in, she said.

Bennett said tourist hotspot Queenstown "cries out" for a bed tax, which would require government permission, but it would be "incredibly confusing" for tourists if there were varying levies around the country. There were also complexities with distributing funds from any tourist levies, she said. Auckland Council introduced a targeted rate on accommodation providers this month, which it plans to use to fund the council agency Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development for tourism promotion and events sponsorship.

The cruise industry is also unhappy, Bennett said, with major operators refusing to book beyond the end of 2018 as they don't feel there is sufficient investment in port infrastructure.

"Cruise was down, not significantly but enough that if we don't invest in it, we are going to lose them," Bennett said. "The cruise ships we want the most are the ones that deploy from Auckland - they fly into Auckland, they stay the night in a hotel and spend some money in the city, and the ships get loaded up with our wonderful produce and wine.

"They're not doing that at the same numbers that we want them to, and they've said to me, we're not sure that you're serious about wanting cruise here if you're not willing to invest in the infrastructure we need. I think we've got some big challenges there."

(BusinessDesk)


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Too right. We need to keep foisting growing costs on the everyday Kiwi taxpayer instead. None of this subjecting tourists to user-pays.

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Have just return d from nine weeks in Europe. Almost all hotels have a bed/tourist tax as a rate per night. This payable by the guest at check out together with any other expenses such as food, wine etc. the rate is a variable one with 5 star hotels charging more and decreasing as the hotel standard decreases. A look at any Booking.com referral shows where a tourist tax exists. Having spent substantial amounts in hotels the tax looks minimal when checking out.
It is painless extraction after all.

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Maybe it has dropped off because they are building their own resorts like Jade in the Far North.

We have fleeced this golden goose for far too long and there is more to tourism than NZ and if we rely on this too much then we will be in dire straits.

Bring back the departure tax.

Need to look to the future, when we Americas Cup and we run it in four years we need to gear up so let us hope Auckland has the infrastructure in place but not sure whether they really look that far ahead.

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Tickets to NZ from China - $650
Average spend while in NZ - $3,000
Average cost of a beer - $6.50
Inability of Government to raise a meagre $5 tax on incoming tourists in order to cope with straining infrastructure - PRICELESS

There are some things government can legislate. For everything else, there's the Too Hard Basket.

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Yeah, everyone else can use a small tax on tourists to pay for infrastructure they use, but us...oh no, apparently that will dissuade everyone from coming.

Sometimes I don't think our government realises NZ's true value and is constantly prepared to sell the country short. Why do they have to be so darn easy all the time?

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The issue I think is that there simply aren't enough folks in government that have the requisite amour propre to be confident for the country and legislate in its best interests.

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Considering that tourism is just about a earner on the scale of farming and dairy the lack of investment in tourist infrastructure and related transport development is extraordinary
Lower taxes on hotel, tourist apartment and related business's is clearly essential. Maybe pre earthquake Christchurch , 24/7 bars and supermarkets and party town Dunedin were important components in Queenstown's success
Apparently in2017 there were only 3000 visitors a night to Christchurch compared with 13,000 a night press earthquake. The National Government seems only interested in supporting farming and lost causes, it has little desire to support the development of sophisticated hotels and development and exciting young people from Germany, Trump land and the UK apparently have the wrong attitude and may actually be sceptical that Helen Clark, Doug Selman and Mike King are obvious candidates for the Nobel PeacePrize and may actually think Galbraith's the worst bar in the world not the best.

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