Tourist levy of up to $35 likely to be imposed on visitors from overseas next year, Government signals

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. 

Consultation begins today on the proposal but not everyone thinks it’s a good idea. Source: 1 NEWS

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.

Tourists capture a winter scene during their New Zealand holiday. Source: 1 NEWS

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. 

Mayors from around NZ met with the Tourism Minister over the issue. Source: 1 NEWS

"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.

Kelvin Davis says it’s not fair New Zealand rate payers continue to shoulder the infrastructure burden. Source: 1 NEWS

New Auckland gym promises to get you fit in just 20 minutes a week - without sweating

A new gym in Auckland, which officially launches today, promises it can get you fit with just one 20 minute work out a week.

Named Fit20, the Dutch franchise has more than 120 studios globally, in the UK, US, Belgium and Qatar.

"The mission of Fit20 is to add strength to people's lives and we would like to do that in shortest amount of time possible," says managing director Catharina Flisjin.

"We don't have mirrors, we don't have loud music so we like people to train with focus and attention."

"There's no sweating because we cool the studio down to 17 degrees, so people can come in their own clothes and go back to work, basically after a workout," Ms Flisjin said.

Clients train on appointment, with a personal trainer and work through six exercises that strengthen and tone muscles.

"It's slow movements focusing on strength training which also gives you a good cardio hit as well," says trainer James Miller.

Ms Flisijn said she was initially sceptical when she came across the concept, so for those who think it's too good to be true, she understands.

"It's totally different to what we've been told in the past, that we need to train a lot and maybe for hours to get really good results.

"But this is different because we offer a very high strong impulse, and quality in this case is more than quantity."

Client Hazel James says she’s already feeling amazing, "I feel heaps stronger and it's really important in my line of work that I have that strength".

"It is really hard work but it's good cause you've got that one on one trainer to keep pushing you, so you don’t chicken out!"

Fit20 hopes to expand in New Zealand, focusing on main centres first.

Fit20 officially opens today and you don’t need to bring your gym gear. Source: 1 NEWS


Burger King union members to strike and picket today

Members of the Unite Union who work at Burger King will go on strike today to protest unpaid work, lack of breaks and low pay rates.

Union spokesperson Gerard Hehir said in a release that strikes and pickets will take place across the country, with 92 per cent of members voting to strike.

"They are sick of having some of the lowest pay rates amongst major fast food companies, sick of working unpaid hours, sick of not getting their breaks and sick of Burger King not sticking to agreements," Mr Hehir said.

The union accused Burger King of withholding staff clock in/clock out records, "despite having supplied such information on an individual basis previously".

Mr Hehir said Unite Union has asked the Labour Inspectorate to investigate whether Burger King is breaking the law by regularly requiring salaried managers on minimum wage to work extra unpaid hours.

"Burger King needs to wake up - the days of employers getting away with stealing their workers time and wages are over," Mr Hehir said.

Source: 1 NEWS