21 Sep 2020

ACT tourism policy: GST cut, privately run isolation, minimum wage cap

7:04 pm on 21 September 2020

The ACT Party would open New Zealand's borders to rich tourists who could pay to use privately run isolation facilities.

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Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Party leader David Seymour announced the party's tourism policy in Te Anau this evening.

It would also consider allowing shorter quarantine times for "lower risk" countries and setting up a joint response taskforce with the business community.


  • Allow privately run managed isolation, including for "high-value" foreign tourists
  • Allow essential staff to pay extra for isolation rooms with home office setups
  • Treat tourists from countries with a low risk of Covid-19 differently, e.g. shorter quarantine times

Lowering tourism restrictions:

  • Mandate Department of Conservation to encourage private sector tourism on conservation land
  • Three-year moratorium on minimum wage increases
  • Bring back 90-day trials

Tax cuts:

  • Cut GST to 10 percent for 12 months, aiming to encourage Australian tourism
  • Abolish the $35 international visitor conservation and tourism levy and return the proceeds to tourism businesses based on their 2019 GST receipts
  • Ban councils from using the rating systems to impose a hotel bed tax

Seymour says that what the industry needs is tourists, and there are opportunities for tourism operators to bring in and isolate tourists for the required quarantine period before allowing them to travel more widely.

"Why can't we allow high-end tourist resorts under strict rules in isolated locations to bring in a plane-load of rich Americans on the proviso that they stay put for two weeks.

"That could bring a lot of money here, it could save businesses and there's got to be more than a few plane loads of rich Americans who wish they were on a country not on the verge of civil war right now."

Seymour says the best thing the government can do for the industry is to set clear rules so New Zealand can safely reconnect with the rest of the world.

"Our polices around border management and tax relief will allow the tourism industry to get back on its feet. We need to think outside the box and ACT has the plan so we can do this sensibly and safely."

He was speaking from Te Anau in Southland. Tourism operators there said in April they had been on the road to recovery from months of bad weather when Covid-19 struck, so a scheme was launched to offer discount fares or free goods or services to places or attractions where they brought visitors.

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