Tourist Tax

NZ has a population of about 4.7m people. Last year we had more than 3m visitors. That’s a lot of visitors for our small population. Small communities in places like Franz Josef, Akaroa, Tongariro struggle to provide facilities like a good water supply and sewerage system, and sufficient parking.

The previous government talked about a possible tourist tax two years ago, but nothing was done. Now this government is planning to add a tourist tax by the second half of next year. The reason for the delay is partly to give people in the industry a chance to express their opinions but also because it will take time for the technology to become available. The tax would be added when visitors apply for a visa or when they apply for an ETA (electronic traffic authority). Many countries already have an ETA and a tourist tax.

The suggested amount is between $25 and $35. It would apply for visitors who are here for less than one year. Australians and Pacific Islanders would be exempt because we have a special relationship with these countries. There would be no charge for children under 2 or for those on business visas.

The tax should bring in between $60m and $80m and would be split between infrastructure and conservation. Infrastructure includes more toilets, especially in remote areas, more parking, more waste disposal including sewerage, more water for places with a shortage of water. Conservation spending could be spent on more tracks, and huts for visitors to enjoy our forest areas. Many of our tourists are attracted here by access to our natural environment like forests, lakes and mountains.

The mayor of Queenstown Lakes district believes that a bed tax is a better idea for their area. This popular area has a large number of hotels and other accommodation catering for tourists. A bed tax would bring in extra income which could be used to provide cheaper accommodation for workers.

Tourism is our largest export earner now with dairy number two.


• struggle (v) – to have difficulty and need to make a big effort
• sewerage system – pipes which carry waste water from the toilet and kitchen
• exempt (adj) – not included, free from a requirement
• conservation (n) – caring for our natural environment, Department of Conservation looks after our forests
• cater (v) – to provide food or other needs for people