Taking a visitor levy off the table is short sighted and may leave local authorities with no alternative but to raise rates, says Regional Tourism New Zealand.
RTNZ executive officer Charlie Ives said his association was surprised that the recommendation for a visitor levy had been removed from the Productivity Commission’s final report to Government, as it had been a strong recommendation in the draft version.
“Not considering some sort of visitor levy as a funding option for local government to both manage the impacts of tourism and also develop tourism as a positive contributor to the vitality of communities in the regions demonstrates a remarkably short-sighted view,” says Charlie.
“Without the option of imposing a user-pays system this decision will perpetuate a situation where local councils, stretched for funds, will have to pay for most of the associated costs of providing for tourism. Not being able to recoup expenditure from those visitors will put financial strain on communities."
Instead, Councils would be forced to raise money through the only lever they had, being further rating of businesses and residents.
Charlie says there was further significant concern that Councils might choose to introduce a target rate on obvious tourism businesses, such as hotels.
“We are disappointed that after months of discussion and submissions the Commission has backtracked on the levy, but RTNZ will continue to advocate for the introduction of a fair user pays system,” he says.