New Zealand says it will start charging tourists an entry levy, as it attempts to meet the demands of a booming tourism industry while protecting its biggest draw card, its pristine nature.
The country’s Ministry of Tourism teamed up with the Ministry of Environment for the first time to present a joint tourism strategy in the northern city of Rotorua on Thursday.
“New Zealand’s natural and cultural heritage is at the core of our tourism industry and our national identity,” Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said.
“We must build a sustainable visitor industry that protects and cherishes this heritage for future generations,” she said.
From October the country will charge tourists a $NZ35 ($A33) levy upon arrival in the country.
The estimated $N80 million ($A75.8 million) raised annually are set to be spent on the environment and investments in infrastructure capable of coping with the growing visitor numbers.
The Pacific country of 4.9 million inhabitants welcomed 3.8 million international visitors in 2018 and the number is expected to top five million by 2025.
In recent years locals and visitors have been worried about insufficient number of toilets, car parks and other infrastructure in popular areas.
“As visitor numbers rise we must ensure the tourism industry is part of the solution for our biggest conservation challenges; including climate change, impact of pest species, and habitat loss and degradation,” Ms Sage said.