Queenstown’s Chamber of Commerce chairman doesn’t believe we need a tourism tax, saying we’ve already got one – GST.
The real problem, chamber chairman Alastair Porter says, is getting some of that Goods and Services Tax revenue – which is funnelled into the Government’s national accounts – spent back in Queenstown on infrastructure.
“Queenstown is responsible for a decent chunk of GST revenue through visitor spend.”
The 15 per cent charge is cost-effective and means there’s no need to come up with some other taxation model like a bed tax, he says.
“Given the amount of GST revenue that’s collected through here, seeing some more of that money going into general tourist infrastructure would be much appreciated – then we don’t need a tourism tax.
“GST’s collected right across the board – hotels, restaurants, shopping, activities.”
Porter says Queenstown should directly benefit by the amount of GST earned from visitors spending locally.
“We don’t want a gift from the Government. But if the Government reinvests some of the GST in tourism-
related infrastructure – like a convention centre – Queenstown will get a dividend and so will the rest of the country.”
Debate about introducing some sort of tourism tax has gathered steam in Queenstown since Queenstown Lakes District Council unveiled a rates proposal in March which it described as the “next best thing to a bed tax”.
A new recreation and events rate was designed to contribute 50 cents per day per visitor to cover the cost of parks, reserves, trails, walkways, public toilets and events.
Council finance boss Stewart Burns and Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden have both since distanced themselves from the “next best thing” description.
Burns has since clarified the proposals won’t actually raise any extra revenue but will be a fairer reflection of where costs lie across residential, commercial and accommodation ratepayers.