Labour’s plan to tax international visitors to help pay for regional infrastructure further recognises the government must help ease the burden brought by the boom.
Previous and consistent calls from district councils encouraged the government to start what became a $25 million regional infrastructure fund. It provided for the development of carparks, freedom camping facilities, sewerage and water works and transport projects.
Labour’s $25 levy would double the size of the infrastructure fund - it would be an airport charge atop of others.
It is ridiculous to say visitors who spend plenty to fly here will be bothered with a levy equivalent to a couple of beers on the flight over.
But it is, perhaps, less ridiculous to consider whether a new levy is needed when the government has spent years cashing in from the tourism boom.
Visitors pay well-in-excess of $1 billion in GST a year.
It has helped the government’s surplus grow to $3.7 billion, buoyed by a tax take that was $1 billion healthier than expected at budget time.
Our politicians acknowledge the regions need help. Help could come quickly well before even the most well-meaning levy were imposed at the border.