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QUEENSTOWN COUNCIL PROPOSES VISITOR LEVY

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July, 2018

The Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) is urging Central
Government to consider its proposed International Visitor Conservation
and Tourism Levy (IVCTL) concurrently with the QLDCs case that a law
change is required to enable a Local Visitor Levy for high-visitor growth
areas.
The Council has acknowledged Central Government for working through
options to meet the complex challenges for funding visitor
infrastructure but is also strongly advocating that the proposed
contestable IVCTL will not go far enough to meet the quantum of the
challenge facing the district.
We have been very clear with what the picture looks like for QLDC. We
took the initiative to take a very strategic approach to our investment
needs to meet the challenge of visitor growth in the shape of a detailed
business case analysis formulated in conjunction with MBIE and have
articulated that case very clearly to Ministers. This work was completed
well in advance of the Provincial Funds fruition and lays out where
and why QLDC requires funding for tourism infrastructure within and
beyond the next ten years.
We appreciate that presenting a strategic and fact-based case for
funding visitor growth is quite a different proposition to funding
communities to enable growth through targeted projects but this is
where our funding case must be considered in a more innovative way
than standing in line for a contestable fund (in the case of the Provincial
Growth Fund) that is designed to induce growth rather than manage it.
Our issues and potential solutions are very different from other cities in
New Zealand. With a ratio of visitors to residents at 34:1 for a QLDC
ratepayer base of 26,000 (with a below average salary of $51k compared
with the national average of $59k) compared to the Auckland visitor
ratio of 1:1, solutions for Auckland and other cities can and must be a
different proposition.
With the very real potential of ultimately degrading the districts
resident and visitor experience it would be negligent of Council not to
clearly state the need for an alternate solution to a unique set of
challenges.
Internationally, Local Visitor Levys (Bed Taxes) have been applied for
decades in highly desirable tourism locations and the potential for this
as an alternative funding mechanism is widely accepted. The models
vary from a percentage-based approach to a dollar figure and clearly we
have yet to work through what that could look like for QLDC. The
solution will need to be shaped to ensure that our local industry
consider such a levy can both be applied and work. Clearly a big piece
of our work as a community will be understanding how such a fund can
be applied and at what level. This is part of the work we want to
partner Central Government on.
QLDC has outlined in its submission on Central Governments proposed
IVCTL that it is urgently seeking to work together with Central
Government to pilot a Local Visitor Levy.

 

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