The Government should be doing all it can to ensure New Zealand reaps the benefits of the boom in tourism but the only firm decision in its draft tourism strategy is to impose another tax, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says. 

“Support for tourism is about priorities and while the strategy outlines some worthy goals to boost the value of tourism it is short on immediate action that the sector needs.

“New taxes on visitors, working groups and reviews simply aren’t the answer for a sector which welcomed a record 3.8 million visitors last year and needs Government action now.

“A new tax isn’t a silver bullet for the tourism sector. It won’t see any new revenue from the tax for years and with Australians excluded, 40 per cent of our international visitors won’t have to pay the levy anyway.

“It’s important to put the new tax in context. Visitors already contribute over $2 billion a year in GST and other taxes. The visitor tax would raise $80 million but that’s money visitors could otherwise spend in the local communities and businesses it purports to help.

“The last National Government offered tangible support with the Tourism Infrastructure Fund established last year and a $76 million package to support our walking tracks and huts. This was achieved without sticking a tax on visitors at our border.

“Those policies are still delivering value to the sector across the country.

“Given the size and value of the tourism industry, we need a Government that is serious about investing in projects and infrastructure now. It is lazy governance to kick for touch with a working group and invent another tax.”

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