Although the Whangarei and Northland is vastly different from Auckland in so many ways, this does not mean recent conversations in Auckland in regards to issues such as bed tax hold no relevance to provincial New Zealand.  With growth in visitor numbers putting pressure on New Zealand’s more popular tourist destinations, the question still needs to be answered as to how to fund the infrastructure that is required to support this growth in a manner that will not result in a negative backlash from those who live in these locations.


Many of these destinations have low ratepayer bases which make funding the much-needed infrastructure difficult.  With visitor numbers expected to continue to grow with a 4.5 million visitors forecasted by 2022 this demand on infrastructure is not going to go away.  Infrastructure has been under-invested in for many years.  A recent Deloittes report identified almost 700 council planned projects with a total value of over $1.46b and in many cases this is in areas affected by the upturn in international visitor numbers.


These are not all big projects and the ability of a small community to fund a toilet block, carpark area, signage or walkway in one of our beautiful coastal or bush locations, can be no less challenging than Auckland resolving their transport problems.  What is clear however is that whatever the solution is, that it is has to be addressed within a national context rather than dealt with on an ad hoc basis at a local level.


Revenue from tourism is significant to New Zealand from which it could be argued we all benefit.  So who is going to pay for this?  I am not sure what the mechanism is and options around the world range widely from introducing differential pricing, departure taxes, bed taxes, or tourism levies.


I would imagine that most would expect that the general principles of user pays should apply.  It may be semantics but those who use something and those who benefit from it are not always the same.  However if someone uses or benefits from something, then they should contribute towards the funding of it.  While there is no doubt that the tourist benefit directly from much of this investment, so to, do many others within the community where it is built and further afield throughout New Zealand.  This benefit is not only the improved amenity and infrastructure but also the opportunity for local people both young and older to be employed and gain work experience.



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