May, 2019Two accommodation giants are taking different approaches in the bed
tax debate, as a lobby group of local providers up the rhetoric on social
Airbnb are proving perhaps unlikely allies for Jim Boult, having been
under the gun from council in the past few years.
Commissioners watered down a controversial proposal to restrict visitor
accommodation in parts of Queenstown, saying there was no evidence
to suggest it affected the rental market.
Still, the firms head of public policy for Australasia, South Asia and
South East Asia, Brent Thomas, is proving hes not one to hold a grudge.
We are supportive, he says of the proposed five per cent visitor levy,
placed solely on the accommodation sector, in effect a room tax.
Queenstown ratepayers have until June 5 to vote in a non-binding
referendum on the visitor levy for the district.
This is something we see around the world, and support in different
places around the world, Thomas says.
Well be continuing to work with our hosts in support of mayor Boults
proposal. We think its fair, its been proven to work elsewhere, and we
think its sustainable.
He says hosts are locals too, and many think the 34 international visitors
to every one resident can contribute more.
Meanwhile, Bookabach has a more cautious approach.
General manager Peter Miles says: We believe short-term rental is a
scalable commercial activity that varies from mum and dads covering
some of the running costs associated with owning a holiday home
through to fully-fledged businesses designed to maximise financial
As such, our chief concern is that any tourism levy scales appropriately
and has a low compliance burden so as to not drive out mum and dad
He believes there should be rates-relief, ideally by rating such
properties as residential. Queenstowns council has indicated that could
be on the cards.
Miles says there are also concerned the levy applies solely to the
accommodation industry, rather than a broad-based levy aimed at the
sector, including providers, tour operators, car rental companies and
That view is echoed by the Lakes District Tax Equity Group, led by Villa
Del Lago Hotel owner Nik Kiddle and his wife Charlotte Mills.
Mills has been vocal on various community social media pages over
recent weeks, stoking support for a no vote. They believe the levy
should also target attraction providers.
Boult says the goal of the levy is to target tourists, rather than locals.
Accommodation is about the only thing in town that locals dont
actually use, Boult says.
This is not a new model, it is done all around the world.
He says it would be difficult to determine what is and whats not an
attraction provider in Queenstown.
Source: Otago Daily Times
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