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Taxes, tolls, quotas proposed to manage tourism impacts

The Wānaka App

11 March 2024, 4:06 PM

Taxes, tolls, quotas proposed to manage tourism impactsCommunity sentiment that there are “too many tourists” was a trigger for the community process. PHOTO: Wānaka App

Taxes, tolls and quotas were some of the suggestions put forward by more than 250 community members across the district on how to manage tourism.

Not-for-profit community group Shaping our Future (SOF) has released a report following community engagement undertaken late last year which looked at “describing, quantifying and managing” the impacts of tourism on our community.

“Pre and post Covid the community sentiment that there were just ‘too many’ tourists was frequently heard,” SOF board chair Vanessa van Uden said.

“Asking the question ‘why do you think that?’ helps verbalise the impacts which is the starting point for developing strategies to reduce the impacts.”

SOF executive officer John Glover said the phrase ‘over tourism’ was not only a function of the number of tourists, but also “a perception or feeling that arises when the negative impacts of tourism are too high”.

Community members at a SOF workshop last year. PHOTO: Supplied

More than 250 members of the public participated via workshops, college visits and an online survey last year, capturing a range of views on the positive and negative impacts of tourism.

Feedback from the community included the expectation that decision makers “can and should act to manage the impacts of tourism”, the report said.

People provided examples of how this could be done, suggesting planning policy, taxes and tolls, among others. 

“As expected there was strong support for tourist taxes to pay for the cost of infrastructure with the suggestion that visitor numbers be limited to match the ability of existing infrastructure to cope in the short term,” the report said.

“Rental car taxes and road tolls were frequently mentioned as actions to reduce traffic.”

The use of visitor give-back schemes, restricting numbers of tourists at various sites, and shifting the focus to the environment were some suggestions to deal with the pressure on the environment.

SOF said the district’s communities value the connection with visitors and the diversity of culture they bring. 

The report presents a community perspective on the positive and negative impacts of tourism and identifies priorities for action. The negative impacts were grouped into three themes: loss of sense of place, living in a two-tier society and how overloaded infrastructure, services, and environment affect our social well-being.

John said the work was supported by tourism and hospitality businesses in both Wānaka and Queenstown, resulting in “some really constructive conversations”.

SOF will at some stage present the report to Destination Southern Lakes (holders of the local destination management plan).

Read the full report here.