Home Terminal at Wellinton Airport.

The International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy is one step closer to becoming a reality after it was approved by cabinet.

The ‘tourist tax’ rate has been confirmed at $35 per visitor and will raise an estimated $80 million per year, with the money being to used to protect and enhance the New Zealand environment.

The tourism industry is cautiously optimistic of the tax, but hesitant about how the money will be spent.

“What’s important is that we take a cautious approach to where the money goes. $80 million seems like a large sum of money but split across tourism and conservations needs it is unlikely to go far if it’s not managed and allocated carefully,” said Judy Chen, executive officer for TECNZ Tourism Industry Aotearoa agreed with TECNZ’s sentiment.

“The industry’s support for the introduction of the IVL is conditional on several factors. These include clarity on the decision-making process and allocating the funds to priorities that will enhance the visitor and community experience,” said Chris Roberts, CEO of Tourism Industry Aotearoa.

However, TIA was appreciative of the Government heeding some of its suggestions.

“TIA is pleased that the Government has accepted two of its recommendations: that the IVL is set at $35 per person – the upper limit proposed in the consultation process – and that the rate is not changed for five years, to offer certainty to international visitors and the tourism industry.”

Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis was vague about how the money would be used.

“This levy is one part of a package of initiatives designed to make sure the tourism industry is sustainable, productive and inclusive, and continues to provide good experiences for both visitors and local communities,” Davis said.

Davis said the Government would continue to work with local governments, conservation and tourism stakeholders to decide where the money will go.