Your Winter Ski Trip To NZ Is Set To Get More Pricey

Tourist tax on the way

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It will soon cost you a little bit more to take a winter break across the ditch.

Queenstown, a favourite winter ski destination for Australians, has voted for a tourist bed tax.

With a population of about 40,000 residents, picturesque Queenstown, in the country's South Island, last year played host to 3.3 million visitors – ad for years the lakeside resort centre and surrounding district have grappled with how a tiny local tax base can pay for increasingly tourist-crowded amenities.

On Friday, the area's mayor celebrated as provisional results from a referendum held this week revealed more than 81 per cent of residents backed a levy on visitors by way of a bed tax.

"We're just starting to creak a little at the seams and we need to future-proof the place," mayor Jim Boult said.

"[Our residents] think it's completely unfair they are having to shoulder the infrastructure spend for the jewel in the crown of New Zealand's largest industry themselves ... We've been looking for a way to share the load."

Long-term residents in recent years have complained the town has changed beyond recognition as tourists congest the area.

Amid public outcry, the district last year rejected a proposed expansion of its airport, and Boult said the community wanted fewer tourists who spend more. He also worried the country's reputation with tourists could be damaged if infrastructure funding falls short.

Mayors around New Zealand have been calling for more ways to fund their needs and the central government last year announced it would begin taxing international visitors upon arrival.

As for Queenstown, the levy now has to be cleared by the central government. In a statement, Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said once the results were finalised he would work with local officials to come up with a proposal.

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7 June 2019

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