To see a movie on the big screen is around $16, give or a take a few dollars. It’s a price that many of us are willing to pay to escape real life for a while as we lose ourselves in a world of dinosaurs, superheroes and Hollywood’s hottest for a couple of hours.
Yet some of us think that a $16 levy will be the end of us, seriously!
Rather than rehashing what many have already said, including the proposal coming out of the blue, it’s time for a grown up discussion about the place of levies in tourism.
We slammed Queenstown when they proposed a bed tax despite the fact her infrastructure is near capacity. We pimp her out, she’s front and centre of so many New Zealand promotions (that by the way, we all benefit from). Yet her care is left solely to those who live there, because you know they all have money! This is completely counter to the essence of kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga. Everyone needs to be part of not only the discussion, but the solution.
Some of our most dynamic experiences are well off the beaten track where services are limited. There are water issues in Northland for a number of our accommodation providers, museums are bleeding, ongoing maintenance of our walking tracks are under pressure – the list goes on and on and on.
We have a number of options, the obvious being an increase to rates and/or tax – but frankly, there is bugger all left to take. Or we could do something novel and introduce a one off levy and decide how we carve that pie up.
Foreign investors could be given the opportunity to contribute to a range of funds including, but not limited to, R & D, infrastructure, regional development, environment, and community initiatives.
And, or, we could cast off the final taboo and introduce a user pays system for the 3 million visitors who arrive on our shores each year.
I am not precious about what it is or isn’t but to sit on our hands is not an option. Tourism 2025 – OUR growth strategy – requires us to think differently to achieve those goals we set ourselves whilst also maintaining the integrity of our brand. The remaining question is, is $16 enough?
Chief Executive, NZ Māori Tourism