By Katherine (age 12) from Christchurch
The hardest thing about visiting New Zealand is deciding what to do first. New Zealand consistently tops the list as being a tourist mecca. From our stunning natural geysers to the finest bush walks the world has to offer, New Zealand has something for everyone. So how do we protect this unique paradise at the bottom of the world? I believe that New Zealand should introduce a tourist tax.
To protect and preserve our magnificent native landscape and wildlife, we need the financial resources to fund and maintain its beauty. The best way to acquire the money we need would be to introduce a tourist tax. What is a tourist tax? A tourist tax is a way of obtaining money by collecting it from tourists as they enter the country. So imagine… If around 3.5 million tourists came every year and if they all paid $20 then we would get a total of about $60 million to put towards conservation.
We need this money to protect our natural environment. The government money is not enough. The Department of Conservation (DOC) spends approximately $140 million on things like huts and tracks, said DOC media advisor Leigh-Anne Wiig. Currently visitors to the Great Walks do not pay an entry fee but do pay between $22 and $54 a night to stay in huts and under $20 for a campsite. Darryl Wilson, the chief executive of a Motueka-based tour operation called Wilsons Abel Tasman, said that introducing an entry fee would be a “positive contribution to restoration and rehabilitation”. But would that be enough?
Why a tourist tax? Tourism has a big impact on the environment. In 2015, New Zealand, which has a population of 4.5 million, saw 3.5 million tourists enter the country. Imagine each one of those tourists visited one national park. This means we need the facilities to support them and litter could be left behind. As a tourist, you would want to see as much of New Zealand as possible, so imagine how much petrol pollution that would be. It also means crowding in places like national parks, walkways, ski fields and roads.
New Zealand is known for its “clean green image”. 100% Pure NZ is how they describe it. But if what if New Zealand isn’t 100% pure? Are we promoting ourselves falsely to the world?!! I mean, if we said New Zealand was “100% dirty” nobody would want to come here. So if we are going to state that we are 100% Pure, then we need to find the money to keep us clean and green.
New Zealand is a stunningly beautiful country with many species that no other countries have to offer. People travel from all over the world to view our breath-taking landscapes and to experience our unique islands. We have no idea how lucky we are to live here. But if we want to stay lucky then it’s time for us to take action. New Zealand needs to introduce a tourist tax.