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More voices for a visitor levy

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

David Hammond and Lyn Cheyne, specialist Destination Management consultants, endorse Regional Tourism New Zealand’s call for a national discussion on tourism tax. Working with several New Zealand councils, both David and Lyn agree any advice provided from government officials on this subject must take into account the providers and associations dealing with the issues on the ground.

A visitor levy is supported if it is invested back into the industry and in particular the regions that need it. "We know regional and smaller districts within New Zealand are struggling to manage capacity issues. Using available and local ratepayer funds to address a national issue removes the ability of these communities to invest in their future in other ways" says Lyn.

Local Government NZ has defined funding growth infrastructure as their top priority. It is urgent and the need for a collaborative solution is recognized. Recent work published by LGNZ around economic development (which includes tourism) shows that average expenditure per council is 2.1% of total operating expenditure. This is hugely variable with the smallest communities having the highest spend per resident on tourism infrastructure.

A previous article David has written calculates councils in rural New Zealand, those with populations of less than 10,000, are spending 49% more than the national average on tourism.

"The discussion has to include those on the ground. They are the communities dealing with these issues right now," David says. Like Charlie Ives, Executive Officer of RTNZ, he recognizes the diversity of those community needs and the different stages of regional growth in terms of the international tourism market. A national discussion and consultation with RTNZ on this issue is fully supported.

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