Thursday, 25 March 2021

Nash intent on taxing the life out of tourism

“Be warned, the Labour Government looks set to break more promises with Tourism Minister Stuart Nash saying in Parliament today on the potential for introducing bed taxes that would hit New Zealanders, ‘there’s a whole lot of work going on in that space,’” says ACT Tourism spokesperson Dr James McDowall.

“Stuart Nash has previously said the issue of bed taxes was being looked at ‘nationally,’ and in answers to Written Parliamentary Questions from me he has revealed the existence of three briefings specifically related to bed taxes, two in December and one in February.

“Never before has the tourism sector done it so tough, but this tone-deaf Government of economic vandals is actually looking at increasing levies and introducing new taxes that will hurt it further.

Official advice from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) says Kiwis would be hit by a bed tax: ‘A bed tax would be payable by all visitors to a location (international and domestic).’

“In December Radio New Zealand and Stuff reported ‘Queenstown hotel owners are distressed to learn that a proposed bed tax is being considered by the Tourism Minister while they struggle to survive.’

“But the commitment to charge ahead was there in the Minister’s speech to the Otago University Tourism Policy School in Queenstown last week, saying ‘there is scope for a fresh look at existing levies’ such as the International Visitor Levy.

“The Minister needs to understand that in normal times international visitors to New Zealand already pay their way – they paid $1.8 billion a year in GST pre-COVID.

“But with a trans-Tasman bubble finally on the cards Stuart Nash wants to start imposing the International Visitor Levy on the only market that’s currently exempt, Australians.

“The timing could not be worse, but the public should be forewarned.

“Before the election Finance Minister Grant Robertson definitively ruled out any change to taxes but a hike in income tax.

“He then broke that promise this week by extending the bright-line test but told Parliament that was it, no more broken promises.

“He might want to have a word to Stuart Nash – a man on a mission to tax the last remaining life out of what’s left of the tourism sector.

“ACT’s prognosis is simple. The sector needs tourists, not taxes. The sooner the Government gets serious about using technology to better track, trace and contain COVID-19 the sooner the tourism sector will have a chance of growing and employing New Zealanders.”