Money collected by a new levy on tourists will be split evenly between tourism projects and conservation as the Government plans a more hands-on role in the booming visitor industry.

About $80 million a year is expected to be collected from international visitors as part of the new levy which faced some opposition from the tourist industry.

The Government this morning has launched a draft Aotearoa-New Zealand Government Tourism Strategy which it says is an important step in ensuring that all New Zealanders benefit from "productive, sustainable and inclusive" tourism growth.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said the strategy proposed a more co-ordinated and active role for government in tourism.
This was needed to make sure growth was productive, sustainable and inclusive and help support the regions.

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The strategy envisaged a number of new areas of cross-agency work and aimed to ensure those who benefit from infrastructure contribute to its costs.

A draft out today says that there is increased pressure on the environment and infrastructure as well as perceptions that the character of New Zealand's best loved places may be changing.

"Due to the relatively low population density in New Zealand, the impact of visitors in some places can be more visible. The impacts are often more pronounced when growth is poorly managed."

In the year to June just under 3.8 million visitors arrived in New Zealand. Tourism earned about $14 billion or a fifth of the country's exports last year.

Small communities with low rating bases but large numbers of visitors face problems building facilities such as toilets and parking areas.

"Tourism is a huge contributor to New Zealand's economic success and we need to continue to ensure we get the best from tourism growth for our country and people, while managing the challenges that come with it," Davis said.

• Priority work areas also include:

• Improving destination plans at a regional level

• Continuing Tourism NZ's strategy of target value over volume and encouraging off-peak growth

• Focusing on tourism sector productivity including seasonanility and skills

• Looking at the impact of tourism on climate change and moving to a low emissions economy

• Implementing the recommendations of the Responsible Camping Working Group

• Supporting iwi to develop authentic visitor experiences

The strategy paper says the Government needs to take a stronger stewardship role, working more actively with local government, iwi and regional stakeholders on tourism development.

Sage said that sustainability was central to this strategy.

"We will use the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy to protect the things that make New Zealand special, and to make sure it remains a great place to visit," she said.

The levy, expected to be introduced in the second half of next year, will charge most international visitors entering New Zealand for 12 months or less a levy of $35.

There will be some exemptions, most notably Australian citizens and permanent residents and people from many Pacific Island countries, such as Tonga and Samoa

Feedback on the strategy is being sought and submissions close on February 4.