Greens announce Taonga Levy policy for international visitors

The Green Party today announced its intention to introduce a new Taonga Levy, to be paid by all international visitors coming to New Zealand, with the proceeds going towards offsetting environmental concerns related to the tourism industry.

The Taonga Levy will be a $14 to $18 increase on existing border charges for international visitors. People who live in New Zealand will not have to pay the levy.

The revenue will be split 70:30 between Predator Free New Zealand and the Regional Tourism Facilities Fund.

“The Taonga Levy will bring in tens of millions of dollars every year to help make New Zealand's dream of being predator-free a reality, and help tourism hotspots cope with rising visitor numbers,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“Annual visitor numbers are expected to reach 4.5 million in the next six years. This levy will enable tourism hotspots to cope with the strain on infrastructure and keep New Zealand’s environment beautiful.”

The proposed levy would be an excellent step towards making New Zealand predator free, according to Forest & Bird, New Zealand’s largest conservation organisation.

The levy would raise around $66 million annually. $46 million of this would go towards making New Zealand predator-free.

“An extra $46 million each year would move New Zealand’s dream of becoming predator free by 2050 forward significantly,” says Kevin Hackwell, Advocacy and Campaigns Manager for Forest & Bird.

“The present Government has already committed $7 million a year to achieving a predator free New Zealand by 2050 and the $46 million raised from a taonga levy tax would mean a six-fold increase in the funding already promised.”

Shaw has also highlighted the financial benefit of the proposed levy to New Zealanders.

“Small communities on the West Coast and Coromandel shouldn’t be expected to wear massive rate hikes to upgrade sewerage systems to cope with the influx of tourists,” says Mr Shaw.

“I think most visitors to New Zealand will understand that paying an extra $14-$18 is worth it to help protect our unique environment and native wildlife.”

Details of the proposed levy can be found here.