10 May 2018

Tourist levy details coming - minister

1:14 pm on 10 May 2018

A visitor levy will be introduced, with details to be announced within weeks, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis says.

Wendekreisen, campervan, camper van

Photo: 123RF

"Bring it on'', that's the Minister of Tourism's response to the prediction of 5.1 million tourists expected to visit New Zealand by 2024.

Kelvin Davis made the comment at TRENZ, the annual tourism industry trade show, in Dunedin this morning, where he also confirmed that the government will introduce an visitor levy.

"Some people say it's [the levy] great, some people say it's terrible but the reality is that we're going to have 5.1 million visitors arriving on our shores in five years time and we need to find ways to pay for the infrastructure and everything they use.''

Mr Davis said the visitor levy will be in place by next year and details of the levy will be revealed in weeks, not months.

Mr Davis declined to comment on what funding could be in next week's Budget for the Department of Conservation, which has seen a huge increase in its role maintaining public areas which are attracting tourists.

"One of our problems is that everything is free. We have to look at ways so that DOC is a bit more self sustainable as well.''

Mr Davis would not be drawn on whether that could involve DOC charging access fees for some areas but did not rule it out.

"We're talking around those issues with the Minister for Conservation and Minister of Finance.

"We're exploring all of these options - I think it's a sensible conversation to have," he said.

"A lot of our attractions are free and we need to look at ways at making people pay their way, if they're going to use them and put pressure on the infrastructure.

"If you're going to go up a path that has cost the government a couple of hundred thousands dollars to build surely we can look at ways to maybe recoup the cost.''

Mr Davis said even with the introduction of an international visitor levy the country would be inundated with visitors and the government needed to consider all funding models, which included DOC funding mechanisms.

"We're looking at how we're going to pay for what's going to land on our shores over the next five years.''

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