Hot on the heels of our previous story about different hiking rates for non NZ citizens there is now a tax being introduced for all tourists except Australians and Pacific Island nations. New Zealand, it seems, has been too successful with tourism – it start very early with its mountains an lakes! 100% pure as a marketing slogan is starting to show a bit of strain and the thought is to generate more money to pay for increased protection. Will it get to a similar situation as Bhutan where they limit the number of tourists per year?
Travel writer Peter Needham sums up assorted news reports…
International visitors will pay between NZD 25 (AUD 23.40) and NZD 35 (AUD 32.70) each to enter New Zealand from late next year, the government in Wellington has announced.
Australian citizens and permanent residents will be exempt, however, and so will people from Pacific Islands Forum countries and children under two. The exemptions reflect the close ties New Zealand has with Australia and the Pacific. The tax is a measure of New Zealand’s spectacular tourism success. The country has become so popular with international visitors that reports of “overtourism” – excessive visitation – are surfacing. Tourists are placing pressure on the environment. Some of New Zealand’s favourite spots are at risk of being “loved to death”.
NZ’s new tourism levy will fund tourism infrastructure and aid conservation. It is expected to raise up to NZD 80 million in the first year, with the bounty split between tourism infrastructure and conservation funding. The exact split has not been decided and tourism bodies are already claiming a share.
As well as the strain tourists place on facilities in remote places, New Zealand (which since 1999 has described itself as “100% Pure” in its famous tourism tagline) is battling a rising tide of pollution. Last November, 16 beaches in Auckland were reported to be too polluted for swimming, with critics blaming intensive livestock farming for making up to 60% of the country’s rivers and lakes unswimmable.
In the year to April 2018, the number of tourists visiting New Zealand equalled 80% of New Zealand’s population. About 3.8 million tourists visited and the New Zealand population is about 4.7 million. It’s as if 20 million tourists had visited Australia over that period (in fact only 9 million did) – and the effect on New Zealand is more concentrated because of its much smaller size.
Australia is New Zealand’s biggest tourism source, with Australians making nearly 1.5 million visits (39% of New Zealand’s total arrivals) over that period.
New Zealand is setting up an electronic travel authority (ETA), a sort of electronic tourist visa. It won’t be ready till next year, which is why the country’s new tourist charges have been deferred until then.