Ratepayers footing the bill
The Prime Minister plans to engage further with the six southern mayors who wrote him a letter appealing for help to deal with ‘‘irresponsible’’ campers.
Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan received a letter from Bill English on Tuesday thanking him, and the five other mayors, for their letter outlining their frustration with irresponsible campers and their concern over the Government’s stance on a tourist levy.
The letter, drafted by Cadogan, was sent to English on May 2. The letter was signed by Cadogan, Waitaki District Mayor Gary Kircher, McKenzie District Mayor Graham Smith, Southland District Mayor Gary Tong, Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan and Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks
The districts were ‘‘bending under the weight of problems caused by irresponsible campers,’’ Cadogan wrote.
The Government currently provided $12 million over four years in co-funding available for the development of infrastructure such as rubbish bins, carparks, toilets or minor water manager projects under the Regional Midsized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund - but that was not enough, he said.
English said the need for funding to provide suitable facilities for tourism in the region ‘‘was noted’’.
‘‘On 3 May my office forwarded your letter to the Minister of Tourism, Hon Paula Bennett, for her consideration and we will discuss the matter further...Thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. I look forward to talking to you before too long.’’
Cadogan said he had received a positive response from the community supporting the move for a levy.
‘‘I have had a lot of people stop me in the street or email their support for what we are saying.’’
A ‘‘modest’’ $20 tourism levy could provide the funds needed to fund facilities in high-use areas that had low population rating bases that could not afford to pay for the facilities, he said in the letter.
Tourism Central Otago general manager Glenys Coughlan said they were ‘‘right behind’’ the initiative of a tourist levy. The fairest way would be to enforce it at the border, rather than at a regional level, she said.
‘‘We think it is good this is being raised at the highest level.’’
A tourist levy would help southern regions deal with ‘‘Irresponsible’’ campers.