Disagreement on tourist tax
The Mirror asked Waitaki electorate candidates whether a visitor tax was needed to help fund the infrastructural costs of tourism on small towns.
Alex Familton said New Zealand First would pump tax revenue from tourism into local councils, and all GST earned from tourists will be returned to the region where the money was spent.
‘‘This will pay for upgrades to environmental regeneration, roads, toilet facilities, and new ventures, all of which are desperately needed. The people in the regions create tourism wealth and they’re not getting their fair share.’’
Democrats for Social Credit candidate Hessel Van Wieren said his party’s commitment to using Reserve Bank Funding instead of going into debt to overseas banks would ensure all infrastructure could be paid for.
‘‘Of course towns like Wanaka, Cromwell and others need financial support.’’
National party candidate Jacqui Dean said her party had ruled out a visitor tax because the party did not believe that the country needed an additional tax.
However, it had allocated $102 million for new tourism infrastructure in this year’s Budget and $76 million for conservation infrastructure. It also planned to increase international visitors’ charges for huts and campsites on walks. ‘‘I agree that tourist towns like Wanaka, Cromwell and Alexandra need support to deal with growing visitor numbers,’’ she said.
Labour candidate Zelie Allan said the infrastructure costs of tourism were disproportionally borne by smaller councils and Labour would be charging incoming tourists a tourism tax of $25 each.
Pat Wall, of the Greens, also ’’firmly believes’’ that there should be some sort of targeted visitor tax to raise funds that can be used to support areas that are popular with tourists.
‘‘The use of those funds should be directed to assist the areas that are most impacted.’’