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Tourism tax short-changes the nation

Opinion Piece

All people who visit New Zealand from overseas are tourists. They are guests of New Zealand.

I believe the Government’s new tourism tax short-changes the nation by excluding Australians and Pacific people.

I can accept that Pacific Islanders who are also New Zealand citizens are exempt — the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau.

Over 1 million Australians visited New Zealand last year. That is $35 million in lost income to support much-needed infrastructure and operational costs to local councils and Department of Conservation tourism sites.

I fail to see the logic to have some tourists paying this tax, and others don’t have to. All tourists put pressure on our infrastructure and increase operating costs.

At the present time councils can apply to the tourism infrastructure fund and this is a partial help, which is great.

But it is the ratepayers who pay for the cleaning and toilet paper of the toilets, to fix the potholes in the car parks, and for all the rubbish disposal that tourists add to what New Zealanders are already disposing of.

The tourism tax pays not one cent towards operational costs.

People say that tourists bring money into the economy, and yes they do, lots of money. But not a bean goes to the council directly.

Tourist money goes to shops and service providers.

Businesses pay rates whether they are busy or not.

Tourism NZ has statistics on tourism numbers for each region, so a proportional allocation would be easy.

Tairawhiti has one of the lowest tourist numbers so we should get one of the lowest amounts from a distribution of the tourist tax. That would be better than nothing — it would help the council pay for some of its operating costs.

Airbnb providers pay no extra rates in Gisborne, but motels and hotels pay more because they are registered businesses.

Is this fair?

In other cities, airbnb and bookabach prioviders, etc, pay commercial rates.

I’m hoping that some of the new tourism tax is allocated proportionately for operational costs. I’m hoping that all tourists will pay equally and fairly one day soon.

Meng Foon