The Tourist tax should be far higher than $35 to truly build the infrastructure our rapacious tourism industry floods us with annually.
I see little benefit to the average Kiwi who has to live with the overcrowding tourism generates, the industry seems to be of loaded economic benefit.
Take the situation at many major ports right now. Normally access to our waterfront is guaranteed, but when those bloody cruise ships come in to town, much of that access is shut down to locals to process the ships, and the amount of days that occurs is steadily rising.
This influx of cruise ship tourists with large wallets leads to retail rents in the area spiking and the cluster of luxury brand shops to explode.
Some will call that progress, I call it economic segregation.
The industry claims that International tourism brought us $14.5 billion in 2017 with 3.5million tourists.
That’s almost the entire domestic population of NZ visiting us.
While I certainly believe NZ businesses do well from tourism, and that it will continue to play a vital role in our economic future, I don’t believe this unsustainable level of tourism has been properly provided for in terms of the infrastructure necessary to carry the current level of visiters.
It’s time for those visiting us to not only be paying for a Tourist Tax for infrastructure, Australians included, it’s time to start thinking about what peak tourism would be because right now, NZ is at risk of killing the very thing that is attracting those 3.5million to us.
There’s little point in making $14.5b from International Tourists each year if they are eroding the natural and pristine environment they are all coming to see.
TDB Blogger, Christine Rose, summed up the dilemma in a blog from 2016…
New Zealand’s natural environment and associated ‘brand’ provide our tourism industry with a competitive advantage, according to the Tourism Export Council of New Zealand. At least 35% of international visitors come here primarily to experience our natural landscapes and other values, and most of these are associated with the public conservation estate managed by the Department of Conservation. Our natural heritage shapes the Kiwi identity, and underpins much of the rest of our economy, such as primary production. However, lack of infrastructure and Department of Conservation funding deficits threaten to kill the golden tourism goose and to trample on its eggs.
Our biodiversity is already declining and visitor pressures exceed capacity, and when this is set in the context of wider environmental damage and enclosure of the commons, it’s hard to see how the tourism growth model can be environmentally or economically sustainable.
…our clean green myth is driven by LOTR cinematography that is at risk of being degraded by the huge influx of visitors.
The Tourist Tax is a start, it needs to be higher and this targeted funding most be used to upgrade tourism infrastructure while we ponder how many tourists are too many tourists.
Tourism NZ has been allowed to bowl along without much forward thinking, we’ve allowed Dairy and the International Education Industry to do that too.
It’s time to start rethinking that.