With New Zealand's national election just a few weeks away, key parties are announcing their policies, and one in particular is taking aim at the tourism industry.
The New Zealand Labour Party says by the end of their first term, they will establish a ‘Tourism and Conservation Infrastructure Fund’, which involves charging every visitor to New Zealand a NZ$25 entry fee (AU$23/US$18), on top of the current NZ$22 fee.
While the Labour Party says the fee won’t hurt the economy and will generate enough revenue to fix issues caused by tourism, it has been widely criticised by opposition parties.
The Labour Party estimates the new tax would raise $75 million per year – $45 million of which would be spent on infrastructure – and the other $30 million would be spent on enhancing and protecting the natural environment.
Labour’s tourism spokesperson Kris Faafoi says the country’s tourism success relies on building infrastructure and protecting natural assets.
“It’s only fair that the cost of these important projects is recouped from the international visitors that enjoy them,” Faafoi says.
New Zealand’s National Party has criticised the move, saying the tax would slow down the New Zealand economy.
“National has allocated $102 million for new tourism infrastructure in Budget 2017 without adding a new tax – which is four years of the amount Labour are saying they would allocate,” National Party campaign chair Steven Joyce says.
The Labour Party rebuffs the claim that it would hurt the economy, stating there is no evidence to support it.
The tax is similar to the Green Party’s taonga levy, which would increase border charges by $20.
New Zealand’s national election is due to take place on September 23.