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Commission’s decision to bin visitor levy could push rates up - RTNZ

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

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).

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," Mr Ives said.

"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," Mr Ives added.

Instead, Councils would be forced to raise money through the only lever they had, being further rating of businesses and residents.

Mr Ives said 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," Mr Ives said.

About Regional Tourism New Zealand

Regional Tourism New Zealand (RTNZ) is the name for the incorporated trust of 30 existing Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs).

It was established as a Charitable Trust in 2005, with the objects being to represent the interests of the collective RTO sector in New Zealand.

As the peak body for RTO’s RTNZ aims to encourage better coordination amongst RTO’s as well as ensuring collective RTO’s are engaged and consulted with on issues critical to the development of the regional tourism sector in New Zealand.

The activities RTNZ engages in include:

 - Developing RTNZ submissions on issues and draft plans that impact the collective

- Providing advice and assistance to members

- Developing and maintaining ongoing relationships with stakeholder agencies

- Negotiation and execution of project-based funding contracts

- Managing and implementation of projects on behalf of RTONZ

- Coordination of media enquiries

- Advocacy of the RTO sector and the important role it plays in the New Zealand tourism landscape

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