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Bed tax could encourage freedom camping

A bed tax on New Zealand’s holiday parks risks incentivising more people to freedom camp, Holiday Parks New Zealand is warning.

HPNZ’s 300 member parks oppose the Productivity Commission’s suggested Accommodation Levy, which it has put forward as a way to raise funds for councils struggling to cope with tourism growth.

Holiday parks account for more than a third (36 per cent) of New Zealand’s commercial accommodation capacity, and provide more than 8 million guest nights a year to both international and domestic travellers.

HPNZ chief executive Fergus Brown says imposing a bed tax would make freedom camping more attractive to some travellers.

"And ironically, councils may well use some of the funds raised to provide freedom camping facilities. So holiday parks could face a double whammy – increased costs and more competition from free camping sites," says Fergus.

Any bed tax would hit hardest on Kiwi campers, he adds.

"The majority of our guests (65 per cent) are Kiwis. A new tax on Kiwi holidaymakers, especially those travelling on a budget, will not be popular."

HPNZ supports Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s proposal that the Government returns the equivalent of 20 per cent of the GST already collected from international visitors. The funds would be distributed via a Trust to local government to address local tourism-related needs, with the allocation determined by the measured level of visitor impact on each territorial local authority.

"This is a very sound proposal that would collect the required amount from existing funding, without placing an extra burden on holiday park owners," says Fergus.

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