A group of backpackers have voiced concern at a visitor levy being proposed by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, saying they are already struggling in a price sensitive market.
They say they are competing against other destinations in New Zealand, cheap Asian holiday spots as well as airbnb and campervan companies who do not pay commercial rates or compliance costs.
The Auckland Small Backpacker Network have written to Goff and asked for a meeting to discuss its concerns.
We already charge what we think the market can bear
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On Monday, Goff floated a visitor levy on hotels and other accommodation in his first budget proposal. The levy would costs a few dollars a night at a backpackers and $20 or more at the city's top hotels.
It would apply to Kiwi and overseas visitors and could raise between $20 million and $30 million a year to replace ratepayer funding to attract visitors and support major events.
Susan Bamber, a spokeswoman for the network, said in the letter that many accommodation providers are small business owners trying to make a living.
"We work long hours and some years make no profit at all ... we have good years and bad years and winter is always a struggle. Any downturn in winter numbers will hit a number of operators very hard.
"We already charge what we think the market can bear.
"We already pay significant rates to the council. We also pay water rates and monitoring costs associated with things like maintaining building warrant of fitness," she said.
Bamber said backpackers compete against campervans and airbnb who arguably use more resources and paid less tax.
"It is generally accepted that over 50 per cent of visitors stay with friends or with airbnb hosts or in sleeper vans. It is hardly a level playing field," she said.
Bamber also questioned the levy going toward attracting visitors, and why the accommodation sector should have to pay for it.
"Accommodation is only a small portion of what people spend in Auckland. Tourism supports many jobs in Auckland," the letter said.
A mayoral spokeswoman said Goff received the letter yesterday and had not read it yet.
She said the tourism and accommodation sector would be engaged on the design of the levy and council would be happy to engage with the backpacker network.