Tourism has been at record levels but anecdotal signs of a slowdown mean the last thing the Government should be doing is imposing new taxes on tourists, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Recent reports indicating a slowdown in one of our largest industries are worrying and should be jolting the Government into action to help support the tourism sector. Taxing tourists is unhelpful – it will drive tourism away.
“New Zealand’s tourism sector is particularly exposed to changes around the world. When downturns occur in key markets like China and Europe, our industry will face challenges.
“This is why the Government needs to rethink their plans to put a tax on tourists coming into the country. It carries a high risk of being a deterrent when people overseas are deciding where to spend their holidays.
“The Minister of Tourism has now spent more than a year figuring out how to put more taxes on the tourism industry but the Government’s own advice shows a tax is likely to deter visitors, resulting in up to $70 million in lost revenue for New Zealand communities.
“It will be even worse if other new taxes, such as bed taxes that we already see in Auckland become more widespread.
“The Government promised $70-80 million for tourism. It hasn’t delivered and in fact has taken us backwards and delivered budget cuts and now it is working on taxes that will drive tourists away and leave less money in the sector.
“The last National Government made tourism a priority. In 2017 alone we established the $100 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund to help support the growth underway in the tourism industry and added $76 million to the Department of Conservation to upgrade our tourism facilities.
“This is the type of action we need to be seeing from this Minister - policy that prioritises the tourism industry and recognises its value to New Zealand. New taxes will drive people away from New Zealand. It’s time the Government delivered real solutions.”