Tourists take island levy in their stride
The Stewart Island visitor levy has been well received by tourists but it will be another month before the first financial returns are counted.
The Southland District Council launched the Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy, which requires visitors to pay a $5 levy, a month ago today.
It is expected to generate at least $150,000 a year to be spent on tourist infrastructure on the island.
Southland District Council chief executive Dave Adamson said no issues or concerns had been raised with the council from ratepayers or tourist operators since the launch.
The sum generated in the past month was not yet known because the returns were collected by the council every two months, he said.
A levy allocation subcommittee will be formed before February and will meet at least once a year to review funding applications and allocate levy funds.
Stewart Island councillor and long-time resident Bruce Ford said the levy had been well-received.
He did not know of anyone who had refused to pay the levy or not visit the island as a result of it.
Cruise New Zealand deputy chairman Kevin O'Sullivan said no cruise passengers had visited the island since the levy launch but he was certain they would have no issue paying the fee.
Hundreds of passengers were expected to visit the island via cruise ships this season, with the first ship expected next month, he said.
Stewart Island Flights chief executive Raymond Hector said tourists were "noncommittal" about paying the levy, but for the company it meant more paperwork.
"There's a lot of unnecessary administration work involved in it for our company.
"But ultimately it will be advantageous for the community," he said.
Stewart Island Experience manager Jason Steele said the introduction of the levy had gone very smoothly and with nothing but a positive response.
It was also a very easy process for the company, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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