Queenstown bed tax gathers steam


Plans to petition the government for a Queenstown bed tax are gathering steam.

Queenstown’s council has been working on a proposal for about six months, following a Local Government New Zealand funding review.

Council boss Adam Feeley says the proposal is yet to be finalised but once the analysis and business case has been developed there will be discussions with the government – possibly led by the local chamber of commerce.

“I think it’s really important that government understand the business community in Queenstown are supportive of visitor levies; they’re sometimes very unpopular with business, but the chamber’s very supportive.” 

The proposed bed tax will help offset the cost of tourists on the resort’s infrastructure.

The district has a relatively small population base – about 30,000 – but more than two million visitors per annum, putting pressure on the area’s infrastructure for which ratepayers foot the bill.

No dollar figure has been determined for a levy.

Feeley says the proportion of tourists into Queenstown in particular is “without parallel anywhere else in NZ”.

“We have 200 times the ratio of visitors to locals to the average in NZ.

“It’s not going to slow down, so I think people are saying ‘it may well be an idea which is about to have its day’.

“It would be nice, I think, to see something come out of it.”

Neither Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden nor Queenstown Chamber of Commerce boss Ann Lockhart could be reached for comment yesterday.

Feeley says there are several options for collecting the levy, but the most effective and simple way would be to introduce a per night tax on accommodation.

“It means for every night you stay in a place, you pay the levy, so there’s a direct proportionality between being in the district, using the infrastructure, using the facilities and the impact on the district.

“[Overseas] they sometimes tie it into tourism activities, you can do it by way of a toll, you can do it through an airport tax, but all of those things don’t have the same proportionality.

“In other words, if I fly into Queenstown, whether I stay for one night or 100 nights, I’m only paying that levy once at the point of entry. Whereas if it’s based around accommodation … it’s for every night’s stay.”

He believes it is an “extremely low-risk concept” to trial in the resort because the characteristics are unique.

“It could be the district, but equally it could be, say, confined to the Wakatipu Basin, it could be confined to Queenstown itself – that would be all for discussion.”

Otago Daily Times