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Tourism Infrastructure Investment Report

December 5, 2016 Business News No Comments Email Email

Regional Tourism Organisations New Zealand (RTONZ) welcomes open and constructive dialogue on visitor levies and other tourism funding mechanisms. We welcome the release of the industry led report on visitor levy and funding options and support a collaborative industry assessment of the potential benefits to New Zealand.

RTONZ Chair Graham Budd, also CEO of Destination Queenstown, comments that while the growth of visitor numbers around New Zealand is very welcome, producing significant economic benefits for many regions, this remains unevenly distributed.

The needs of each region across the country are different when it comes to prioritising the range of tourism related services that communities must fund. This can include tourism promotion and marketing, events, visitor support services such as information centres and visitor related infrastructure such as parking, toilets and similar facilities. The range of needs is very broad.

Visitor growth is also imposing an unaffordable burden on many relatively small ratepayer communities to provide public visitor infrastructure while also protecting and enhancing our natural and built environment. We are proud of our national reputation as welcoming and caring hosts and want to provide great experiences.  To help achieve this we believe it is reasonable that visitors should be required to make a small contribution to the costs, nationally and regionally, of providing essential components of the experience they enjoy.

RTONZ does not agree with some opinion regarding the perceived risks of introducing visitor levies and believes that many arguments do not hold up against the vast pool of international experiences and proven examples which we can learn from.

As such RTONZ welcomes a united industry recognition of the problems we are trying to solve together, and that finding funding solutions is the largest hurdle to successfully achieving this. A strong partnership approach between national and local government and the visitor industry is essential while it will also be critical to ensure that the use of funds from visitor levies is well framed through legislation, regulatory or other mechanisms.

Where levies are collected within defined regions we believe the best people to understand specific local needs and priorities are those communities themselves. Management and application of at least some of these funds should therefore be vested within local authority territories or regions. This will also help address resident resistance towards tourism growth in parts of the country where relatively small ratepayer communities are under severe pressure during peak times.

Once again we welcome an open and constructive discussion and believe this could be a significant time in defining New Zealand’s ability to effectively enable sustainable tourism growth in the years ahead.

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