New Zealand will more than double a levy it charges travellers to enter the country by air or sea.
From December 1, the country’s Border Processing Levy will jump from NZ$20 per airline passenger return trip to NZ$43, with passengers arriving on cruise ships to be charged NZ$36.
Introduced in 2016, the levy is used to fund necessary customs and biosecurity services for all arriving and departing passengers, including Kiwis themselves.
The higher charges are expected to be passed on by airlines and cruise companies in the form of increased ticket costs.
New Zealand’s tourism industry, once the nation’s biggest export earner, has been decimated by the pandemic, with the border still largely closed to foreigners.
Adding more costs for a traveller runs the risk of putting some visitors off once borders reopen, claims the Tourism Industry Aotearoa body, and slowing an already fragile recovery in the tourism sector.
“We are strongly opposed to this option,” ITA chief executive Chris Roberts said. “It is too soon, too impactful on the traveler and will slow down the recovery for thousands of tourism businesses.”
As a justification for the increases, the government says the processing of travellers will be more complicated due to Covid-19, with additional costs and checks involved in operating ‘green lanes’ and ‘red lanes’, while the expected lower number of travellers will also mean less overall revenue.
The New Zealand government has said it wants to transform the tourism industry in the wake of the pandemic, targeting more high-value visitors amid concerns mass tourism is damaging the environment.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg