Local Government New Zealand says the first round of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund will help some councils meet the infrastructure challenges posed by booming tourism numbers.
$14.2 million has been awarded to various councils for 30 visitor-related infrastructure projects and four feasibility studies, providing co-funding for new carparks, toilets and wastewater upgrades.
“As Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis says, increasing tourist numbers are putting pressure on infrastructure in many areas around the country, especially for those communities with small ratepayer bases,” LGNZ President Dave Cull says.
Mr Cull says while this additional funding is welcome, LGNZ continues to advocate for a long-term, sustainable funding mechanism which lets visitors contribute to the infrastructure they use when they are here. Tourism brings many benefits for much of New Zealand but its continued growth also brings a range of challenges, not least of which is paying for the infrastructure used by visitors but funded by local communities.
During the election the Labour party campaigned on charging international visitors a $25 per trip levy and Tourism Minister Hon Kelvin Davis has now asked officials to prepare advice on implementing a levy.
LGNZ President Dave Cull says more sustainable funding such as a visitor levy or share of GST is essential to help support the tourism industry and councils and communities meet the infrastructure needs that come with an influx of people.
“A sustainable funding source that is fairly raised and allocated and applied to capital and operational expenditure, and maintenance, of tourism infrastructure is vital,” Mr Cull says.
“Whatever its form, either a levy or portion of GST, we are now urging the government to partner with local government on details around how a new, sustainable funding mechanism will work, and variations of this for places like Queenstown where the need is different.”