NZ Finance Minister dismisses visitors' tax

New Zealand finance Minister, Steven Joyce, confirmed his reluctance to impose a visitor levy on tourists because visitor numbers may not remain at the current level, he said. He was speaking at a lunch on April 28 2017, hosted by the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce.

 He noted that tourist numbers in New Zealand were only a small percentage of tourist numbers worldwide - although they might seem big to us.

 However, it was important for the government to invest in infrastructure, to make things happen, he said, particularly in a place like Queenstown given that it is a tourist mecca.

 He also spoke about the need to mobilise private capital and utilise that when necessary.

 At the end of April, Joyce announced that he would be allocating $11 billion over the next four years to infrastructure in the May Budget, up from $4 billion. Some of these projects are already underway such as the Kapiti Expressway and the new City Rail Link (CRL) in Auckland.

 In Queenstown, the biggest infrastructure project is the bridge at Kawarau Falls, At the moment, this means that traffic can be delayed around the bridge for hours.

 When asked about freedom camping, Joyce agreed that more regulation was needed, but he was not certain what that should be. Some initial changes have been made and further changes and regulations would be put in place after the various discussions were completed, he said.

 The challenge was to ensure that people paid their fair share of the facilities that they used while still having a good experience, he added.

 When asked about ensuring New Zealand’s water quality, Joyce said that $100 million had already been spent on this and the government would continue to do so in order to ensure good water quality. He said the water quality had deteriorated over the past 60-80 years, and it was not the result of only one government.

 Joyce also emphasised New Zealand’s strong economic performance, one of the best in the OECD, and the country’s high employment rate.

 Clutha Southland MP, Todd Barclay was also present and he introduced Joyce.

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Thursday, 28 May 2020