A month of consultation on the Government's planned tourist tax to help fund tourism infrastructure opens today, with the Government signalling the levy will be up to $35 and will be collected through visa applications and a proposed Electronic Travel Authority.
Tourism Kelvin Davis has released details of the plan to ease the cost burden on communities and ratepayers for tourism-related infrastructure through a proposed a levy on international visitors.
Most international visitors entering New Zealand for 12 months or less would be charged a levy, proposed to be between $25 to $35.
There would be some exemptions, most notably Australian citizens and permanent residents and people from most Pacific Island Forum countries.
The levy would be collected through visa fees, and via a proposed Electronic Travel Authority process for citizens of visa waiver countries.
The Government says levies would collect around $57 to $80 million in its first year, depending on the rate, which will be split between tourism infrastructure and conservation activity.
The levy will likely be implemented in the second half of 2019 as it will have to go through a legislative process.
Consultation on the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy is open from today until July 15, along with consultation on the Electronic Travel Authority and fees and levies proposals.
Mr Davis says the rapid growth in tourist numbers has impacted on the costs and availability of publicly-provided infrastructure.
"Many regions are struggling to cope and urgently need improved infrastructure, from toilet facilities to carparks," he said.
"We need a smarter way to fund the great infrastructure tourists need to make the most of their time here.
"It's only fair that they make a small contribution so that we can help provide the infrastructure they need and better protect the natural places they enjoy."
The Minister said: "We've come up with an innovative collection model that would avoid disruption at our borders, while delivering a long-term funding base to support our tourism and conservation sectors."
He claims the previous government failed to invest in infrastructure to keep up with the tourism boom, and ignored calls to find a regular income stream for communities to cope with costs.
"This government is determined to support councils and operators so they can continue to prosper and provide the jobs this country needs," Mr Davis said.
"I would like to see this funding support the work government, councils and the sector will need to do to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth," he said.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says tourists will understand.
"Many visitors come to New Zealand to experience our unique and beautiful natural environment. I am sure they will be happy to help protect our special places," she said.
Information on the consultations can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.