Wednesday, 15th August, 2018

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce Firmly Backs Visitor Levy

 

A Queenstown Chamber of Commerce survey has shown strong support for a resort based visitor levy, which would help deliver self-determination to the people of Queenstown.

In an informal survey of more than 100 business owners from Queenstown and Wanaka, 94% of respondents agree that QLDC is unable to fund all of its future infrastructure and visitor experience requirements solely through rates on existing ratepayers. At the same time, 81% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “I support a Local Visitor Levy that targets visitors only.”


Chamber Chief Executive Ann Lockhart said, “A local visitor levy would remove the need to rely solely on local rates and Central Government funding to manage our own infrastructure, environmental and visitor experience.”


“The number of residents and the ratings base are simply too small. It’s well known that in this district there are around 34 visitors for each resident compared to Auckland’s 1:1 ratio,” says Ms Lockhart.

While it was appreciated that Queenstown’s infrastructure challenges and core role in New Zealand’s visitor economy was recognised, relying on Government grants and funding was not the full answer. This is not a sustainable approach given the pressure on Central Government to provide their core services such as education, healthcare and social services, especially when the answer to our challenges is right here in the very growth we are trying to manage.


The region, which saw three million visitors in the last year, has enough capable talent to manage its own challenges, evolve, and protect its future as a world-class destination, says Queenstown Chamber of Commerce CEO Ann Lockhart.


“It needs for Government and industry bodies to recognise the benefits of direct funding which would come with a well-managed and implemented visitor levy.”


Chamber’s research shows clearly that a small additional levy on each visitor, as proven effective in many top tourism destinations around the world, provides a funding answer to the challenges of Queenstown Lakes’ high tourism growth.


Normal measures and formulas for rates and investment in services and infrastructure didn’t work for high tourism areas like Queenstown and Wanaka.


“Our visitors can help to pay for the upkeep and investment of the area. As in other tourism destinations, they can appreciate that the small amount that they pay will help to protect and enhance the wonderful experience for which the Queenstown Lakes District is known around the world.”


”Administering our own visitor levy means we can better fund the ongoing costs of carrying out our plan and vision, we can be agile, and can plan, manage and deliver to the needs of our area without cumbersome processes and overheads, or burdening our ratepayers and diminishing the visitor experience.”

Also 72% of respondents from the survey either disagreed or strongly disagreed with implementing broader levies which captured locals as well as visitors. There needs to be due consultation with stakeholders and investigation of collection methods and planned mitigation of any costs against benefits.


“It is unlikely that there is a perfect methodology for levy collection but the majority agree on the principles of a small, targeted, fair, reasonable and widely collected fund from visitors. While a bed tax has been talked about with concerns raised by some accommodation providers, we must seek the most suitable method across a range of criteria, and the business community needs to be engaged in the investigation.”


“This is a problem which we have been discussing for 30 years - it’s time to move forward.”

To view the results of recent Chamber Local Visitor Levy Survey, click the below link:

 


SURVEY RESULTS

 


--ends—


For more information contact Ann Lockhart on 027 443 2225 / ann@queenstownchamber.org.nz