Tourism funding in this context relates to financial contributions provided through central and local government. There are two components to tourism funding – the source of funds and distribution of funds.
Sources of tourism funding
International visitors pay taxes and are more than paying their way. TIA believes these taxes, including the border clearance levy and $1.5 billion a year in GST, need to be taken into account when additional charges on visitors are contemplated.
Tourism businesses support regional tourism activity through general and targeted rates, regional marketing alliances and their own marketing efforts.
There are infrastructure funding issues at a local government level, especially in regions with small ratepayer bases. Central government assistance is desirable in some cases and there are opportunities for greater user pays and better use of council balance sheets.
Any new funding models contemplated need to be fair and applied nationally. A strength of the New Zealand tax system is its simplicity. Ad hoc taxes on visitors or tourism businesses at a local level are undesirable.
Distribution of tourism funding
There needs to be adequate central government funding of the agencies that play a key role in the visitor economy, including but not limited to Tourism New Zealand and the Department of Conservation.
Central government funding support for local mixed-use infrastructure provided by local government requires a robust governance and allocation process.
Any form of tourism tax, such as the existing border clearance levy, must be ring-fenced for tourism-related investments, not siphoned off for other purposes.
Regional expenditure on tourism marketing and destination management by local authorities should be consistent with the tourism aspirations of the community and cognisant of the impact that visitor spend has on the wider community including employees and suppliers.