Northland tourism leader Jeroen Jongejans said there is no surprise in the plan to charge international tourists a border levy to help pay for conservation and tourism infrastructure.

But consultation with the industry would have been appreciated, he said.

The Government has said it will go ahead with the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy, a tax of between $25 to $35 on most international visitors entering New Zealand for 12 months or fewer.

The new tax will not apply to New Zealanders, Australians, Pacific Forum countries, transit passengers, diplomats, some business travellers and children under 2.


It expected to collect between $57 million and $80m in its first year, depending on the rate charged, to be split between tourism infrastructure and conservation activity.

Jongejans, the co-deputy chair of Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), said although this Government, pre-election, signalled a charge the industry expected a consultation process. The TIA is the largest independent tourism body in New Zealand.

''The consultation was going to be about would we do it. Now it will be how will it be spent,'' said Jongejans, an owner/director of Dive! Tutukaka and a former local government politician.

Submissions can be made from now until July 15, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said when he made the announcement.

Among submissions expected are those calling for assurances the package will give extra, not replacement, funds to the two targeted areas. Also a hot topic will be the way it is split.

The levy itself was unlikely to be a game changer for incoming tourists, Jongejans said.

''In isolation, it's a few cups of coffee. A consumer in Europe or Asia who really wants to come to New Zealand, that $35 won't stop them.''

While it was vital the Department of Conservation was able to maintain and sustain tourism volume and its footprint on the public estate, tourism infrastructure at regional and local levels needed supporting, Jongejans said.

The onus is currently on local bodies and communities to provide tourism amenities such as roads, toilets and parking areas, without central government support for what has been a huge income earner for the Government.

The TIA's major concern was how the tax take would be divvied up, considering there were already dedicated budgets for both tourism and conservation.

The new ring-fenced money was welcome but it was not the only tax the country made from tourism, Jongejans said.

The Government already earned an estimated $700 from every international tourist through their spending, taxed at every exchange. That money went into the general revenue kitty.

Davis said the levy — collected through visa applications and an Electronic Travel Authority at the border — was intended to ease the cost burden on communities and ratepayers for tourism-related infrastructure.

''Many regions are struggling to cope and urgently need improved infrastructure, from toilet facilities to carparks."

The funding was necessary to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth, ''to better manage tourism for the benefit of all", Davis said.

"It's only fair that [tourists] make a small contribution so that we can help provide the infrastructure they need and better protect the natural places they enjoy.''

After the required legislative process, the tax is expected to be implemented in the second half of next year.