New Zealand: Labour Party proposes tourism tax for foreign tourists

NEW ZEALAND’S opposition Labour Party wants to implement a tourism tax for international visitors if voted into office during the national election on Sept 23, Reuters reported.

The tax will help the country build new infrastructure amid a tourism boom, and will also pour billions of dollars into health and education.

The party said that it planned to impose an NZ$25 (US$18) fee for every international tourist who walks into the country, and will work with immigration officials to seek out the best way to collect the levy.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick Faafoi said the tourism boom meant that more infrastructure was needed to support the numbers “especially if [New Zealand] wants to attract high-spending tourists who will increase the value of the sector to the [local] economy”. He added that it wasn’t going to be paid by New Zealand citizens, residents, or domestic tourists.

“From Northland to Southland, councils are facing increasing pressure to support growing numbers of tourists without the funds to do it. It’s time for the government to help ensure we deliver a world-class experience to tourists without unfairly burdening local communities,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Is there such a thing as ‘too many tourists’ for New Zealand?

Tourist-heavy areas like Auckland is struggling with a lack of hotel rooms. Source: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstoc

However, others are more skeptical about imposing taxes on tourists. RNZ reported Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts was concerned that tourists were already doing their part for New Zealand’s economy.

“International visitors to New Zealand already pay NZ$1.2 billion in GST (US$860,784) a year as well as all the existing border taxes,” he said.

“We don’t think that another tax on top of the existing tax is the right approach. There’s plenty of revenue coming in from our overseas visitors, they are more than paying their way in this country already.”

SEE ALSO: Too many tourists, too few hotel rooms in New Zealand

New Zealand’s tourism boom has proven to be challenging for some areas due to a lack of infrastructure, especially when it comes to hotel rooms.

According to Bloomberg, government research pointed to a likely shortage of over 4,500 hotel rooms by 2025, even after taking into account the construction of about 5,200 new rooms by then.