Talia Avakian
June 18, 2018

New Zealand’s government has unveiled plans to implement a tourist tax it says will help protect its infrastructure and natural environment.

The tax, which will range from NZ $25 to $35 (about $17-24 USD), is expected to go into effect in the second half of 2019. All international visitors staying 12 months or less will be required to pay the new fee.

There are some exemptions, including short-haul visitors from Australia and the Pacific Island Forum countries, children under the age of two, and those visiting on diplomatic, humanitarian, business, transit, and medical visas. 

Visitors will pay the tax when obtaining their visa or Electronic Travel Authority. The tax is expected to reel in anywhere from NZ $57-80 million ($39.7-55.8 million USD) in the first year. The funds received will be split between infrastructure and conservation efforts.

The country currently receives 3.8 million international visitors each year, and that number is expected to grow to 5.1 million by 2024, according to New Zealand’s Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis.

As tourism continues to grow, the tax will ensure "international visitors contribute to the infrastructure they use and help protect the natural places they come here to enjoy," Davis said.

International visitors to rural New Zealand communities can increase tenfold in the summer months, according to the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network (NZRGPN), often forcing staff to undertake up to six air ambulance call-outs in a day to assist tourists while local communities are often left without support in the case of medical emergencies. 

“Decisions around allocating revenue from a Tourist Tax will need to reflect the real needs of rural communities, not just the highly visible issues like car park congestion,” Dalton Kelly, chief executive of the NZRGPN, said in a statement.

New Zealand's government is currently accepting public opinions on the new policy through July 15 and a decision is expected by September.

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