The Green Party says it's irresponsible of Paula Bennett to dismiss a tourist levy to help pay for infrastructure and conservation, when small communities are staring down the barrel of an extra 1 million visitor over the next five years.
Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said she does not support a tax on tourists over the weekend.
“The whole country benefits from tourism, but it's ratepayers in areas like the Mackenzie Country, West Coast, and the Queenstown-Lakes District who foot the bill for the infrastructure that supports the industry. A tourist levy would fix that," said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.
“We’re hearing of a chronic shortage of basic infrastructure like wastewater services, public toilets, rubbish collection and carparks in tourist hot spots around the county.
“The levy would add an additional $20 million to the Regional Tourism Fund every year to pay for these types of infrastructure. It’d also raise $46 million a year to properly fund predator-free New Zealand.
“The tourism industry says that we need to invest around $100 to $150 million annually on tourism infrastructure, yet last year the Government spent just $3 million.
“In the last seven years tourist numbers grew by a million people. In the next five years, this is forecast to increase by another 1 million. Our infrastructure simply isn’t keeping up.
“The tourism levy should also be used to invest in our conservation estate that so many tourists come to experience," said Mr Shaw.