“We do believe visitors should pay their fair share.”

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A new tourist tax looks set to be introduced in 2019

This was a comment made last week by Kelvin Davis, the New Zealand tourism minister as his country agreed that they would introduce a $NZ35 levy on most visiting tourists.

In a week in which similar comments have been made by politicians in Scotland, it seems necessary to remind politicians of the value of visitors, tourists or holidaymakers.

By and large we bring money and economic activity into an area. We support jobs and retail establishments, restaurants and cafes, accommodation providers and attractions, we pay our share of public transport usage yet why do so many look on tourists as leeches?

Why is it that have publicised the benefits of visiting an attraction, some locals and their representatives then bitterly moan that tourists are a pain in the backside? If you don’t want tourists then don’t advertise; don’t set up attractions and don’t have B&B’s or other accommodation nearby.

But what would you do without the money tourism brings?

Tourists will vote with their feet if they decide that one destination is more expensive than other. Finding the point at which they make that decision to go elsewhere is difficult. Currencies and how they fare against sterling play a key matter, probably much more so than bed taxes do as evidenced by the fact that numbers visiting places like Barcelona, Venice, Rome and New York do.

Okarito lagoon in New Zealand’s South Island is the largest wetland in the country and a big tourist draw. Tourists don’t want to damage the environment to see it but their cash will go towards money to protect it.

For those booking more expensive holidays, an increase in few pounds – as the minister said – wouldn’t make a decisive difference. But more of us don’t book expensive holidays and a NZ$35 levy is substantial when you talk about a family of four.

It sounds as though the minister – and many destinations around the world want only those that can afford the more expensive holiday options. They conclude, that brings fewer tourists but more revenue. That is seen as a win-win answer to the potential problems of tourism pollution or over tourism as some euphemistically call it.

Tourism does bring demands on the destination. Cars and coaches can clog roads, additional parking and pubic conveniences are required and for some reason best only known to God, people do leave litter around when they wouldn’t do it at home.

Political leaders have listed tourism as one of the key indicators to quickly – in their terms – rebound from recessions, stagnation and economic downturns.

What they must also do is not to damage the goose that lays the golden egg for them. And who is to say that NZ$35 may not just do that.

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