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Possible tourist tax hike come soon

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The Government might raise the International Visitor Levy (IVL) soon, aiming to boost funds from tourists to support tourism and conservation efforts. Currently, visitors pay $35 when entering the country, except for those from Australia and some Pacific Island nations. The proposed increase could see the fee rise to $50, $70, or even $100.

Finance Minister Nicola Willis announced that this adjustment would ensure tourists contribute fairly to maintaining national parks and regional infrastructure. However, Queenstown-Lakes mayor Glyn Lewers questioned the timing of this announcement during the consultation period, asking, “What’s the consultation for?”

The IVL, introduced by the Labour government in 2019, was initially opposed by the National Party. Tourism Minister Matt Doocey explained that the levy must be reviewed every five years. Adjusted for inflation, the levy should be around $42.15 today, but the proposed figures are significantly higher.

Funds from the levy are split between conservation and tourism projects, but some towns feel they need more support for infrastructure. Queenstown-Lakes, with nearly 50,000 residents but 3 million visitors annually, sees no direct benefit from the levy. Mayor Lewers suggested redistributing the levy to areas with high visitor numbers or considering a Bed Tax instead.

Mark Rose from The Rees Hotel in Queenstown opposed the Bed Tax, calling it outdated and suggesting alternatives like taxing foreign credit card transactions. Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s CEO Rebecca Ingram emphasized the importance of careful consideration and transparency in any fee changes to ensure they effectively benefit New Zealand.

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