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New Zealand May Raise Fees for Foreign Travelers Upon Reopening


Following up on the recent announcement that New Zealand will soon reopen its borders to international travelers for the first time in two years, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash today indicated that the Kiwi government may require outside visitors to pay more to enjoy its “100% Pure” natural splendor.

Like many other destinations, New Zealand was allowed breathing room during the pandemic to reassess the way it conducts tourism and to reevaluate its priorities, realizing that, perhaps, quality is preferable to quantity when it comes to attracting international visitors.

In pre-pandemic times, New Zealand’s tourism industry generated more revenue from foreign sources than its dairy industry, according to Bloomberg. But, concerns had arisen about overcrowding and insufficient infrastructure that undermined the country’s famously green, pristine character.

Speaking on Friday at a University of Otago conference, Nash said, “As international visitors return, we will not fall back into the old ways,” adding, “Tourism won’t return to the way it was. It will be better.”

As part of that commitment, he said that he is, “planning ways now to ensure that our future visitors pay their way.”

Back in 2019, the government implemented a non-refundable International Visitor Levy (IVL) of NZ$35 (about US$24) per person, which travelers pay alongside visa or NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) fees. It’s intended to ensure tourism sustainability by funding environmental conservation and enhancement projects, as well as improvements in destination management and tourism infrastructure.

“Most of us could agree that NZ$35 for the IVL was fine when it first came in, but is not sustainable in the long term if we are to meet the expectations of visitors for world-class infrastructure and facilities,” said Nash. “I am continuing to look at the IVL but no immediate changes are in store, and no cabinet decisions have been made.”

The tourism minister declared that the sector needs to reset its approach by targeting “high value” visitors—a set that’s distinctly different from the “high net-worth” crowd, and which still includes backpackers and budget travelers.

“High-value, high-quality visitors give back more than they take,” he said. “They travel across seasons and across regions. They are environmentally conscious. They want to learn about local history and culture, and try new experiences.”

New Zealand is set to open quarantine-free to a select set of foreign travelers on May 1—two months sooner than anticipated. Overseas visitors will need to have proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, provide a negative pre-departure test and will be given two rapid antigen tests upon arrival at Auckland Airport, to be self-administered on Days 1 and 6 of their stay.

For the latest insights on travel to New Zealand, check out the guide below:

For more information, visit newzealand.com.


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