Friday, 15 June 2018

New Zealand to tax tourists

Tourists who already contribute over $26 billion a year to New Zealand's wealth will have to pay a good deal more if plans for a new tourist tax are approved.

The new labour government are seeking to punish the international tourists for coming to their country because they say it is unfair for the locals to pay for the infrastructure that tourists also use. According to Kelvin Davis the Tourism Minister  "In many places, our tourism infrastructure is creaking at the seams. We don't believe that the financial burden should rest purely on the shoulders of New Zealanders. We do believe that visitors should pay their fair share. This levy is an important step in ensuring the growth is managed well."

In addition to the money tourists spend on accommodation, meals, tourist attractions and local businesses, they also take away with them some $14.5 billion worth of tourists exports, that's 20.7% of New Zealand's total export earnings.  Nearly 9% of all New Zeland jobs are directly related to the tourist industry, that's about 230,800 people.

The proposed levy on international visitors will be between $25 to $35 and will be introduced in time for the New Zeland summer in 2019. It's estimated that it would bring in around $80 million a year, although no estimates are available on how such a tax would affect the number of visitors coming to the islands. Currently, nearly 3.8 million folks decide to make the trip to NZ, current estimates (before the tax was suggested) show that might increase to 5.1 million by 2024. Which isn't bad, especially when compared to the population of NZ, nearly 4.7 million. 

The tax would apply to every international tourist arriving in New Zealand, except for near neighbours, the Pacific Islanders and the Australian's who won't have to pay a penny. Perhaps the kiwi's don't think the Aussies use any of the infrastructures that the rest of us mere mortal international visitors do, although as currently Australian's make up 39% of the international visitors that's hard to believe!

Having been to New Zealand twice, I can honestly say it is a lovely country, with some amazingly beautiful natural sights to behold and the locals are generally very friendly, with the exception of a rude bus driver or two. It is, however already an expensive place for us Europeans to go to. Looking at the receipts from my most recent trip, I spent more in tax in New Zealand than I did in total on a two-night stopover in Los Angeles on the way to and from Auckland.  To pay even more on top of all the tax, duties, surcharges, vat that we already have to fork out for and on top of the $5000+ the average tourist spends whilst on holiday in New Zealand does seem more than a little greedy to me.  It would certainly make me think again before making another trip country.