New Zealand has increased its tourist tax from $25 - $35 to become effective from around the middle of 2019. Some official advice on the matter has forewarned that this could lead to up to 20,000 fewer visitors coming to New Zealand. This would, in turn, make the country lose about $70 million that could have been spent by the visitors.

The increase in taxes, on the other hand, could generate revenue of up to $80 million every year for tourism and conservation infrastructure.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment published this analysis in a paper that was released last week together with cabinet papers that contained information about a new travel document known as ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) as well as reviews on immigration fees.

The government of New Zealand has been considering introducing a levy for international visitors which will fall between $25 and $35 as well as an ETA fee falling somewhere between $9 and $12.50 which will serve as a pre-approval for visitors before they arrive.

The analysis published by the Ministry discussed the impact of having a $9 fee for ETA and a $25 levy which translate into having a single tourist pay up to $34 for their visit to New Zealand.

Ian Lees-Galloway, New Zealand's Minister for Immigration, has aimed to finalize and complete the system by March 2019.

Information in a paper published by the cabinet reveals that the minister is working towards an out-of-cycle budget approval to get the ETA fee and visitor levy ready by the latter half of 2019 for collection by air travelers and by 2020 for cruise travelers including their respective crew.

An ETA implies that tourists from countries that New Zealand has a visa-waiver agreement with would need to obtain permission to travel into the country before their arrival.

For how long is the ETA valid?

The approval process for the ETA takes up to 72 hours and will have a 5-year validity for the crew who travel by air and cruise and then a 2-year validity for their passengers.

The ETA approval will not apply to citizens of New Zealand and Australia. Citizens of Australia will also not pay the visitor levy because New Zealand and Australia have a policy of freedom of movement between them.

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