New Zealand’s International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL)

New Zealand will become of forty-one countries around the world to charge a tourism tax, when their IVL is implemented on 1st October 2019. The levy will address the environmental footprint tourism leaves on local infrastructure and resources and see to it that tourists pay their way in this respect, rather than persisting with having the locals pay the price.

The aim of the International Visitor Levy

The recent significant increase in tourism numbers to New Zealand has negatively impacted public conservation lands and waters managed by the Department of Conservation, as well as visitor infrastructure and facilities. Visitors are not currently contributing to a revenue stream funding assets or investing in the maintaining infrastructure in the country.

Over tourism as a problematic evolution started with the introduction of mass tourism, originally developed by Thomas Cook in the United Kingdom. In the 1800s the British travel initiated the notion of affordable group travel tours. This has metamorphosised somewhat into budget-friendly package deals, all-inclusive resorts, cheap flights, and cruises. Theoretically mass tourism has its upside, including the stimulation of the local economy by an influx of tourists, jobs creation, and infrastructure development. Practically, however, international investors take much of the revenue, the locals don’t get many jobs, and are often excluded from enjoying their own country by the crushing crowds of visitors. Locals cite inadequate infrastructure, overcrowding, environmental damage, increased traffic congestion, road safety, and the cost and availability of accommodation as problematic.

Professionals in the field tend to regard this form of tourism as exploitative and unsustainable, contributing little to local communities. Tourists should be held responsible for supporting unsustainable tourism practices which inevitably destroy wonderful destinations. New Zealand’s answer to this problem is the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy. International visitors will thereby contribute financially to the local infrastructures they utilise and assist in protecting the natural environment.

Estimates predict that the IVL will bring in about £61 million during its first year, to fund conservation projects and tourism infrastructure throughout New Zealand. It aims to promote an inclusive, sustainable, and productive tourism industry which ensures positive experiences for both visitors and local communities. The levy will improve tourism planning and boost, protect and enhance the country’s exceptional natural environment.

Cost of The International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy

The International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy will be charged simultaneously with the Electronic Travel Authority or Visitor visa. The levy will cost NZD $35 (£18) and will be payable by credit or debit card. The IVL will be valid for as long as the ETA is valid or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.

International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy Application

Travellers entering New Zealand to stay for periods of up to 12 months will have to pay the new levy, including:

  • visitors from all visa waiver countries, including the United Kingdom
  • cruise ship passengers of any nationality

International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy exemptions

Not all visitors to New Zealand will have to pay the tourism levy, such as:

  • Australian citizens
  • Australian permanent residents
  • Nationals of Pacific Island countries
  • New Zealand citizens
  • New Zealand permanent residents
  • Travelers in transit
  • Business Visitor Visa travellers (including APEC business travel cards)
  • Travellers entering for diplomatic, military, medical, and humanitarian purposes
  • Ship and air crew
  • Travelers transiting through to Antarctica
  • Regional Seasonal Employment workers