'Alarm bells' ring for hotel industry over Phil Goff's Auckland visitor levy

Tourists say a visitor levy on them in Auckland may be fair, but the city is already too expensive and visitor numbers ...
SIMON MAUDE/FAIRFAX NZ

Tourists say a visitor levy on them in Auckland may be fair, but the city is already too expensive and visitor numbers will drop.

Phil Goff's plan to implement a levy on visitors to Auckland took many by surprise, including those tipped to collect the fee - hotels. 

Chairman for the Auckland Hoteliers Association, Paul Columbus, said Auckland mayor Goff's levy plan raises "serious alarm bells" for those in the hotel industry. 

Columbus said the industry has multiple concerns about introducing a visitor levy, including where exactly the money will go and what it is going to be used for. 

Auckland mayor Phil Goff's call for a special visitor levy has raised concerns for the hotel industry.
SIMON MAUDE/FAIRFAX NZ

Auckland mayor Phil Goff's call for a special visitor levy has raised concerns for the hotel industry.

"It has to be equitable... but we don't know how it will be used."

"If it's going to ATEED [Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development] as a whole, that's not right," he said. 

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The fact that the levy would also be placed on accommodation providers only was also a concern, he said, and the hotel industry would be the ones "affected by it most."

The idea to implement a visitor levy in Auckland is not new, and the idea has come and gone in the past. 

The Green Party most recently floated the idea in August this year.

A type of visitor levy does already exist in New Zealand, collected by central government through people's airfares. 

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The Tourism Industry Association said in a statement on Monday that the idea to introduce a visitor levy on accommodation is unfair and ill-conceived. 

"Tourism is a huge success story for Auckland – the Council should be supporting its continued growth, not trying to fleece the golden goose."

"Neither our commercial accommodation providers, nor our visitors, should be treated as cash cows," chief executive Chris Roberts said in the statement. 

Tourists in Auckland spoken to said they wouldn't mind paying a visitor levy, but felt Auckland was expensive enough to visit without one. 

Moa Annenebran, visiting from Sweden, said said introducing a visitor levy would be "fair enough", and that tourists and people visiting the country could give back to local economy - but felt Auckland was already an expensive city and a levy would put people off.

 - Stuff.co.nz

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