Backing Tourism To Succeed In A Covid World

Press Release – ACT New Zealand

“ACT has a plan to lift the restrictions holding back the tourism sector and give operators the tax relief they need after being hammered by Covid,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“I’ve travelled from Northland to Southland talking to tourism operators on ACT’s ‘Change Your Future Bus Tour.’ I’ve heard first-hand the struggles the sector is facing.

“The Government’s approach has been to pick winners with its Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme. While recipients are no doubt grateful for the money received, the effect of it is minor and seemingly concentrated on well recognised operators, simply so politicians can have their photos taken as they hand over a cheque.

“We can’t fix the tourism industry by picking winners. We need a consistent approach to support the entire industry.

“What the tourism industry needs is tourists, and certainty of getting them. The best thing the Government can do for the industry is to set clear rules of the game so that New Zealand can safely reconnect with the rest of the world.

“We should start by asking what can be done rather than imposing blanket restrictions on people entering the country. ACT’s approach reflects a change of attitude. We should allow practices that are safe and allow businesses to demonstrate that they can be safe, rather than imposing a Government monopoly.

“There are opportunities for high value tourism operators to bring in and isolate tourists for the required quarantine period before allowing them to travel more widely. There are many around today’s chaotic world who would take advantage of these opportunities if the Government was willing to work with operators to allow them to.

“Our polices around border management and tax relief will allow the tourism industry to get back on its feet. We need to think outside the box and ACT has the plan so we can do this sensibly and safely.”

ACT would:

Ensure Safe and Secure Borders

  • Introduce a single multi-disciplinary, public and private sector Epidemic Response Unit, modelled on Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre.
  • Government as a referee, not a player in the game, setting standards and enforcing them but allowing the private sector to meet them. We should use the private sector to supplement the MIQ system like we do with health care – you should be able to ‘go private’ for your isolation period.
  • Allow high-value foreign tourists through this system.
  • Essential staff can pay extra for hotel rooms with home-office setups so they can work through their two-week period.
  • Managing the dangers of Covid with a risk weighted approach. We should treat tourists from countries without Covid and with high quality public health systems (e.g. Taiwan) differently from how we treat those from Covid-ridden countries or those with poor public health. For instance, there might be shorter quarantine times for better tested and lower risk tourists.

Lift Restrictions Holding Tourism Back

  • The Department of Conservation (DOC) needs a mandate to encourage private sector tourism on the conversation estate, not restrict it. Leases could fund conservation projects, for example, but presently we are not getting full value out of the DOC estate and DOC is not getting full value out of tourism.
  • Tourism needs a flexible labour market, but the current Government’s Employment laws will make it harder for the industry to employ people. ACT would have a three-year moratorium on increasing the minimum wage and bring back 90-day trials for all businesses.

Tax Cuts to Boost the Tourism Sector

  • ACT would cut GST from 15 percent to 10 percent for 12 months. The GST cut will boost domestic spending and make New Zealand an even more attractive holiday destination for Australians when the border opens.
  • ACT would abolish the $35 International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy, and return the proceeds to tourism business, on the basis of their GST receipts in 2019.
  • ACT would ban councils from using the rating system to impose a Hotel Bed Tax. This provision has been unfairly and destructively imposed on the sector in the case of Auckland. It is a narrow tax imposed on tourism that amounts to a revenue grab by councils, that still hangs over other regions.

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