The waiving of Department of Conservation (DOC) concession fees for 15 months is a huge relief for hundreds of tourism businesses, and will support their survival and recovery, noted Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA).
The Government has announced that around 1000 tourism concessionaires who operate on public conservation land will not have to pay activity-based, management or monitoring fees from 1 March 2020 until 30 June 2021. DOC will receive $25m from the Tourism Recovery Package to compensate for the lost income.
“We are delighted that the Government has listened to our requests for DOC to relieve the cost pressures on concessionaires who are facing tough times through no fault of their own,” said Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive, Chris Roberts.
A relief package was discussed with TIA last week and the announcement largely reflects what TIA asked for. DOC has also advised TIA that the department will work on a case by case basis with any tourism operator struggling to meet fee commitments incurred prior to 1 March.
TIA is also pleased that DOC is being compensated for the loss of concession income through a grant from the $400 million Tourism Recovery Package.
TIA also wants New Zealanders to be released from having to pay concession fees.
At present, Kiwis are paying twice for access to the public conservation estate if they go with a concessionaire – once through the general tax system, and again through the DOC concession component of the ticket price.
“Removing this cost would help stimulate domestic demand as operators could pass the savings on to their clients.”