Tourist tax: Who will and who won't have to pay the levy of up to $35 to visit New Zealand?

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis has this morning acknowledged the New Zealand tourism industry expressed concerns to him about the new proposed levy of up to $35 during its conception.

Mr Davis announced the tourist levy in Wellington today, set for a start date of the end of 2019, and assured any negative impact on visitor numbers to our shores was taken into consideration when designing the levy.

In particular, a number of major tourist markets to New Zealand will be exempt from the toll.

"I know the industry had concerns. I've heard them, and have taken them into account when designing this system," Mr Davis said.

"But we know given the projected growth in visitors, doing nothing is not an option.

"Let me be clear, it will not apply to a New Zealand citizen or permanent residents, it will not cause disruption at the border, and it will not affect our major short-fall markets of Australia and the Pacific Islands."

Mr Davis said it was not fair New Zealand residents continued to shoulder the burden of conservation infrastructure in particular - which is worn down by the growing tourist numbers.

The Tourism Minister said the $3.8 million international visitors that arrive in New Zealand every year, is expected to grow to $5.1 million by 2024.

"In many places our tourism infrastructure is creaking at the seams as you all well know," Mr Davis said.

"We don't believe the financial burden should rest purely on the shoulders of New Zealanders, we do believe that visitors should pay their fair share."  

Details of the levy

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.

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

Classic car seized by police in Bay of Plenty meth operation

A classic car has been seized by police in the Bay of Plenty town of Kawerau that was allegedly acquired through the proceeds of illegal drug activity.

Yesterday police seized the 1955 Ford Customline car as part of an ongoing operation to strip people of assets they have acquired through the sale and supply of methamphetamine.

In a statement Sergeant Al Fenwick says police want to ensure those selling meth in the Kawerau community "aren’t able to build and enjoy nest eggs of assets on the back of the suffering and misery of others".

"As part of our follow up in Kawerau we are looking to strengthen and build resilience in the community and are working with other agencies to support those that have been affected by methamphetamine.  

A 1955 Ford Customline car seized by police in Kawerau.
A 1955 Ford Customline car seized by police in Kawerau. Source: NZ Police.


'It stays hidden' - Age Concern urges people to watch out for the signs of elder abuse

Age Concern New Zealand is urging people to be vigilant for elder abuse - and to actually go and see older people rather than just sending things.

Spokesperson Hanny Naus, speaking this morning to TVNZ1's Breakfast, said elder abuse is "when an older person is harmed by someone who they trust, and that can be an action or an inaction".

Most elder abuse comes from people who initially genuinely want to help older people, she said, but that can turn sour.

"Psychological abuse sits behind most abuse that happens ... so often a person might be being betrayed or being upset by what's happening in their lives and have no avenue to express that or to deal with that," Ms Naus said.

"What we see a lot is that people who initially start off trying to be helpful to the older person, often it's in a family situation where one person offers to take care of them or to help them with their finances, ends up being controlled or abused by that person."

The best way for people to help is to stay aware of how an older person is feeling - to go and visit them and ask questions rather than sending flowers, for example.

"Ask questions and seek out what might be useful to that person to get the help they need," Ms Naus said.

"A lot of what happens in families ... stays hidden."

You call Age Concern on 0800 326 686 for advice, even if you're not sure if a person is being abused.

Spokesperson Hanny Naus says those committing elder abuse often start out wanting to help. Source: Breakfast