Tuesday, 2nd July, 2019
Thanks to those members who responded to our membership satisfaction survey. The board and I are broadly satisfied with our results. Click here to read the results and my commentary.
Members have identified transport (getting staff and customers from A to B efficiently and safely) as the most important advocacy area they would like the Chamber to work on.
As you are no doubt aware, the collaborative QLDC, ORC and QLDC partnership (using the Wakatipu Way-to-Go brand) are working on several longer term transport business cases including the Frankton to Queenstown and Frankton Masterplan. I continue to represent businesses in the consultation meetings held as these longer term plans are developed. The draft Frankton Masterplan has now been put out for public consultation and I would be interested in member views on this longer term plan with its proposed approach to move SH6 to a "high density urban arterial" with a 50km limit. Think Great South Road in Auckland (with a 2048 time horizon).
NZTA is also working on a new business case with a shorter, and tighter, focus. They have employed a travel demand manager to write a travel demand management plan for the Wakatipu Basin focusing on identifying quick-win improvements to transport infrastructure and rapid intervention. I am determined to help planner Louise Baker write the ‘best darn plan in the West’ (by her August 19th deadline) and getting this submitted to a contestable NZTA fund for implementation.
Local visitor levy
Well, actually, scratch that, accommodation levy. Many of our accommodation members, whilst acknowledging the need for regional ability to fund tourism infrastructure, are understandably annoyed that their sector has been chosen to collect the levy. They argue that their elastic pricing structure will mean that they will need to absorb this levy into their pricing and it is inequitable. They have the support of the Tourism Industry Association who see this as a national, not regional, issue and are arguing for a nationally appropriate mechanism to fund tourism infrastructure.
Ratepayers, many of whom are accommodation providers themselves through peer-to-peer platforms, however voted overwhelmingly in favour of the local accommodation levy.
Chamber members in the non-accommodation sectors have been, generally, in support of or undecided about the levy being applied to accommodation. They have not expressed any strong views on how this may or may not affect their businesses to the executive or board.
Many people have asked me what is the Chamber’s “position” on the levy. The Chamber has always supported a visitor levy to fund infrastructure, but has been quiet on the most appropriate method of application.
Personally, I am not in favour of positional statements, they tend to set up a win-lose scenario which is not conducive to good policy design and outcomes.
The next step in the implementation of the visitor levy is for the IRD to design a brand-new type of tax (a levy) for New Zealand. There are very few examples of this type of tax in the Southern Hemisphere and implementation in the crowded pricing structure of accommodation providers, wholesalers and online travel agents (who charge both the host and the guest) will be interesting. Devil, detail etc.
How IRD designs a tax is governed by a thing called the Generic Tax Policy Design Process. Apparently New Zealand is acknowledged by tax boffins internationally for this design process. Opportunity for industry expert contribution and stakeholder feedback during policy development is required. Once the policy is designed, it goes through the various readings, select committee etc and is passed into law.
The Chamber is working with our accommodation members to consider the possible implementation models and trying to understand the impact on consumers, accommodation providers and QLDC (in terms of revenue collected) ready for the expert and stakeholder consultation periods. If you are interested in how Government designs taxes you can click here.
Chief executive member presentations
I am commencing three to four monthly CEO updates on the 1 August. These will be a 60 minute verbal update on the topical issues that the Chamber are working on and will be an opportunity for members to make comments and contributions on the work undertaken. They will generally cover our key advocacy areas of transport, LVL, labour (immigration and housing) and general business compliance issues. Click here to book.
It’s a wrap
It is financial year end for the Chamber. I would like to acknowledge the work of Catherine Fallon, Jo Brown and Rebecca Viale in achieving the budgeted goals for the last 12 months. Without an effective CEO for 5 months (as Ann left and I arrived) your executive team and Board have maintained membership at over 600 businesses and delivered 80 events, enjoyed by 4,000 attendees. This solid core of committed and talented staff has allowed me to quickly continue the advocacy work of the previous CEO. Hats off to them.
New board member - Johnathan Chen
We are pleased to welcome new co-opted board member (one of two positions) Johnathan Chen to the Chamber board from July 2019. Johnathan is the Business Strategy Director at Remarkables Park Limited and has dual qualifications in law and engineering. Read more about him on his LinkedIn page.
Phone 021 488 709