Holiday Parks New Zealand has joined Tourism Industry Aotearoa in criticising the proposed bed tax, claiming it could lead to a rise in freedom camping.

HPNZ's 300 member parks opposed the Productivity Commission's suggested Accommodation Levy, which it put forward as a way to raise funds for councils struggling to cope with tourism growth.

Holiday parks currently account for more than a third (36 per cent) of New Zealand's commercial accommodation capacity, and provide more than 8 million guest nights a year to both international and domestic travellers.

“The majority of our guests (65%) are Kiwis. A new tax on Kiwi holidaymakers, especially those travelling on a budget, will not be popular," said Fergus Brown, Chief Executive of HPNZ.

"Ironically, councils may well use some of the funds raised to provide freedom camping facilities. So holiday parks could face a double whammy – increased costs and more competition from free camping sites,” Mr Brown said. "Any bed tax would hit hardest on Kiwi campers."

HPNZ supports Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s proposal that the Government returns the equivalent of 20% of the GST already collected from international visitors. The funds would be distributed via a Trust to local government to address local tourism-related needs, with the allocation determined by the measured level of visitor impact on each territorial local authority.

“This is a very sound proposal that would collect the required amount from existing funding, without placing an extra burden on holiday park owners,” Mr Brown said.