The public comment period ends this Sunday for a proposed
tax that would charge visitors between $17 and $24. The tax revenue would be
used to fund tourism infrastructure and conservation efforts.
"As the number of visitors to our country increases
year on year, so does the pressure grow on our infrastructure, on our
conservation estate, and on our communities. In many places, our tourism
infrastructure is creaking at the seams," New Zealand tourism minister
Kelvin Davis said in a speech introducing the proposed tax last month.
He added, "We don't believe that the financial burden
should rest purely on the shoulders of New Zealanders. We do believe that
visitors should pay their fair share. This levy will ensure our international
visitors contribute to the infrastructure they use and help protect the natural
places they come here to enjoy."
If approved, the International Visitor Conservation and
Tourism Levy would go into effect toward the end of next year, and is expected
to generate between $40 million and $54 million in its first year. Following
the public comment period, a decision is expected to be made on the tax this
The tax would be collected through visa fees and a new
electronic travel authorization process for citizens of countries in the Visa
Waiver Program. Australian citizens and people from most Pacific Islands Forum
countries would be exempt from paying the tourist tax.
Some 3.8 million international visitors travel to New Zealand
each year, and that number is expected to grow to 5.1 million by 2024.
Tourist taxes are common. Many countries have departure taxes,
which are typically built into the airfare. Also, countries and municipalities often
integrate tourist taxes into hotel pricing.
New Zealand has outlined several examples of the types of
investments it would make with the added funding, including supporting
businesses that give back to nature, attracting more visitors to more towns and
building up infrastructure to protect against natural disasters.