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.