Improvements to make visitor visa processing easier and faster risk being negated by the impacts of the Government’s new travel tax, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand says.
TIA CEO Chris Roberts
“We are pleased that Immigration New Zealand has now enabled visitors to apply for their visas online, including a Chinese language form for visitors from New Zealand’s fastest growing market,” TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says.
“This makes New Zealand a more welcoming destination for many travellers, potentially encouraging more visitors to travel here,” Mr Roberts says.
Improving the border experience for international visitors, including visa facilitation, is one of the key actions identified in Tourism 2025 to help increase the tourism industry’s contribution to New Zealand’s economy.
“However, while the Government is breaking down barriers to travel with one hand, it is building them up on the other. The border clearance levy, or travel tax, introduced in the Budget, will make it more costly to come to New Zealand,” Mr Roberts says.
International visitors already contribute strongly to New Zealand’s economy, spending $10.3 billion a year, including $700 million a year in GST collected by the Government. As the visitor spend increases, that GST take increases, making the Government the biggest beneficiary from each additional visitor to New Zealand.
TIA is spearheading a coalition of industry organisations and business leaders to fight the new travel tax.
“Adequate border controls are a public good, like having a police force, and serve the interests of all New Zealanders. The Government already receives a direct net benefit from any increase in international visitors through GST and there is no justification for taxing travellers for arriving or leaving our country. It’s entirely the wrong signal to send as we strive to achieve our 2025 goal of almost doubling total tourism revenue to $41 billion,” Mr Roberts says.