SA travellers affected as New Zealand plans to tax tourists, increase immigration and visa fees

2018-06-15 10:05
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iStock- New Zealand

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New Zealand announced plans on Friday, 15 June, to introduce a tourist tax and increase other fees for international visitors to fund infrastructure development in the face of a tourist boom.

Tourism numbers in the country of 4.5 million have surged by nearly a third in the past three years to 3.8 million in the year to April.

SEE: New Zealand to close down visa services in Pretoria, move to online only

"This rapid growth has impacted on the costs and availability of publicly-provided infrastructure," tourism minister Kelvin Davis said.

"Many regions are struggling to cope and urgently need improved infrastructure, from toilet facilities to carparks."

Price hikes for immigration fees and visas

Travellers are advised that price hikes for immigration fees and visas will take effect in November 2018, and the amount by which these prices will increase is still to be confirmed. Currently, South Africans need to fork out NZ$165.00 (about R1 535.42 at R9.31/NZ$) for online visa applications, while the cost for paper applications $184 (R1 712.23).

In addition to this, a tax of NZ$25-35 (R232.66 - R325.72 @R9.31/NZ$) would be imposed on international visitors from mid-2019.

Australians and most Pacific Island forum countries will be exempt from the new charges.

The announcement is not good news for South Africans who not only require a visa to enter the country, but together with a weaker exchange rate will feel the pinch of now facing additional costs if they plan to visit.

ALSO SEE: New Zealand visa changes: The first of many new visa restrictions for SA immigration?

After New Zealand announced in 2016 that South African visitors will require a visitor visa, SA changed its visa regulations for New Zealand visitors, who now also need visas to enter SA. 

According to Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom, the impact of reciprocal visas with New Zealand has led to a significant drop in travel from the country as well. 

New tax system debated

Tourism is a key pillar of the New Zealand economy and the new tax is expected to raise up to NZ$80 million (R744.50 million) in its first year, which will be split between tourism infrastructure and conservation initiatives.

The main opposition National Party claimed the new tax system would make New Zealand a "less attractive" destination.

But Davis believed the impact on tourist numbers would be minimal.

"When you're talking about the additional cost to, say, someone coming from the United States who are already paying about NZ$1 200, an extra NZ$25-NZ$30 isn't going to make that much of a difference," he said.

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