With New Zealand’s ever-increasing tourism industry, the Government has taken action by proposing a border tax for incoming visitors.
Aussies, permanent residents, those with valid New Zealand visas and those from select Pacific Island nations would be exempt.
But nearly 1.5 million of New Zealand’s 3.7 million visitors last year were from Australia, with many of the remaining coming from the islands.
We’re really keen that this money is spent as wisely as possible.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa CEO Chris Roberts told RadioLIVE that the NZ-Australia Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement means that taxing Australians would require the taxing of Kiwis as well.
“We can’t put a tax on Australians and not put a tax on New Zealanders.”
Mr Roberts also pointed out that Australians can get automatic residency status in New Zealand, so a tax on Australians would contradict the exemption for permanent residents.
As for Pacific Islanders, he guessed that the exemption was made for political reasons.
The exemptions posed an issue for the border tax, particularly if the tax was applied to all airline tickets coming to New Zealand.
The Government has now opted an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) for visitors to complete online before their trip, which would include the undisclosed border tax fee. Individuals who qualify for exemption would be able to hop on a plane without filling out the form.
The ETA is expected to charge travellers $9 for an administration fee in addition to the border tax, which is estimated to be between $25 to $35.
Mr Roberts estimates that the ETA system will cost $20 million to operate, and bring in $60 to $80 million a year. Money from the ETA would go towards conservation and tourism, in broad terms.
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“It’s not known at all what the money will be spent on, and that’s really going to be our focus.
“We’re really keen that this money is spent as wisely as possible.”
Mr Roberts emphasised that if the Government is going to make tourists cough up upwards of $40, it is essential that the tourism industry make a noticeable improvement in the country’s infrastructure and tourism hot spots.
Listen to the full interview with Chris Roberts above.