Lonely Planet Writer

New Zealand's tourist tax is coming in 2019

New Zealand has confirmed that its new tourist levy will be implemented from mid-2019.

Tourists are flocking to enjoy New Zealand’s spectacular scenery. Photo by Moritz Wolf

International visitors will be subject to a tax of NZ$25-35, however Australian citizens and permanent residents will be exempt. The announcement was made by the tourism minister, Kelvin Davis, following his party’s 2017 election promise to introduce a NZ$25 (US$17) tourism charge for international visitors.

At the time, they forecasted the tourist tax would create a NZ$75 million (US$52 million) fund for tourism and conservation, creating world-class facilities for visitors without getting residents to pay for it. In turn, they hope it will attract higher-paying tourists to the country.

Freedom camping has presented some problems in recent years. Photo by Matthew Micah Wright

New Zealand has been having a tourism boom in recent years, welcoming 3.7 million people last year, and the government wants many more. By 2024, foreign tourist numbers are expected to reach 5.1 million and while Davis welcomes the surge, he also acknowledged there were issues. “I don’t want our environmental and tourist reputation damaged” he told conference attendees.

With such an increase in visitors, facilities like public toilets, car-parking and accommodation prices are under huge strain, particularly with the popularity of freedom camping among budget travellers (and some bad behaviour too). Despite this, in a January 2018 survey 90% agreed that international tourism was good for the economy, but 44% are concerned about the strain the influx is putting on the country.

When introduced, New Zealand will be far from alone when it comes to introducing tourist levies. Cities like Amsterdam, Paris and New York all have tourist tax in an effort to tackle overtourism and overcrowding and undoubtedly in the age of mass tourism many will follow suit.

This article was first published on 14 May 2018 and was updated on 18 June.