Should we tax tourists?

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Queenstown’s controversial “bed tax” issue could re-emerge as local mayoral candidates confirm they’re open to the idea. 

Mayoral hopefuls Simon Hayes, Michael Scott and Vanessa van Uden last week voiced their opinions on charging tourists an extra fee with their accommodation bill to stay in the resort. 

The tax would help pay for necessary infrastructure which is proving difficult to fund from the Wakatipu’s small rates base. It has previously always been shelved because local accommodation providers are fiercely opposed to the idea. 

At a meet-the-candidates public meeting at the Wakatipu Senior Citizens rooms last Friday, Van Uden said the idea is something she’d canvas more with her planned “thinktank” groups of local experts. 

“I’m not opposed to a bed tax as such. I think it’s something we need to look seriously at and make it work for us,” Van Uden says. 

Hayes agrees there needs to be “some meaningful discussion” on the matter. 

“I think there’s no doubt with a small ratepayer base we’ll have to look for alternative funding. 

“I’m delighted that there are a number of hoteliers coming round to the idea that there should be a bed tax. Again I think it’s how you call it – if you call it a tax it has negative connotations,” Hayes says. 

Scott says the resort should “definitely” look at the charges. 

“For a small rate base and a huge visitor area, which we try to put across to the whole world that we’re the adventure capital – I don’t think we can charge a great deal but it’s something I’d look into.”