Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis

The Government has revealed its proposal for a tax on tourists entering New Zealand.

Beginning in the second half of 2019 tourists entering New Zealand for less than 12 months would be hit with an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy. Every passenger coming into the country would be made to pay between $25-$35 for the levies.

New Zealand citizens and residents, Australians, and people from Pacific Island Forum countries would be exempt from the levies. Other exempt travellers include transit passengers, diplomats, some business travellers and children under two years old.

The levy’s establishment will come alongside the introduction of the Electronic Transit Authority (ETA), which aims to strengthen the country’s border security and will be responsible for collecting the levies. It will also add a further $9 on top of the visitor levies contributing towards the ETA.

An estimated $57-80 million a year will be collected from the new taxes, and the proceeds will be split between conservation and tourism.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said the levies are necessary to help infrastructure keep up with the growing number of tourists entering the country.

“New Zealand is an extraordinary destination for tourists and our rising tourist numbers bear out the popularity of our unique country. But with success comes a burden,” said Davis.

“This rapid growth has impacted on the costs and availability of publicly-provided infrastructure. Many regions are struggling to cope and urgently need improved infrastructure, from toilet facilities to carparks,”

Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive Chris Roberts attended the announcement at Parliament.

“No final decisions have been made on the split between conservation and tourism, what sort of projects should be funded, or how the decisions should be made. The tourism industry is ready to participate in a robust and constructive discussion on these crucial details.” Roberts said.

“Our international visitors will be more accepting of being charged to come to New Zealand if they can clearly see it is going to support infrastructure and services that enhance their visit.”

Consultation regarding the ETA and the levies is open from 15 June to 15 July. The final decision is expected to be made in September. If approved, the ETA would come into effect in the second half of next year, and any levy changes would be enforced starting this November.