Discussion is divided on how, or if, tourists to Rotorua should be taxed - but the council and the Chamber is in favour of stinging international visitors at the border.

Rotorua deputy mayor Dave Donaldson called it a ''no-brainer'' but one hospitality leader said you ''don't want to shoot the golden goose''.

The debate follows Auckland councillors voting 10-7 to adopt a targeted rate on accommodation providers and Labour's pre-election announcement it wanted to put a $25 levy on international visitors to support tourism.

There was no doubt tourists put pressure on infrastructure and it should not be up to ratepayer to foot all of the bill, Mr Donaldson said.


New Zealand was behind the times when it came to not having a tourist tax and the council was ''in favour of a tourist tax at the border''.

''What we need is a sustainable means of funding infrastructure that supports the visitor economy and it shouldn't be completely on the local ratepayer.''

The border tax was a great solution to a New Zealand infrastructure issue, said Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Allison Lawton.

Statistics New Zealand average visitation data could be used to make sure each region got its fair share, she said, while she totally opposed a bed tax.

''This alienates our visitor, whom already contributes so much to our economy. We need to show them manaaki when they arrive in our city, and a bed tax goes against our hospitality philosophy.''

Destination Rotorua chief executive Michelle Templer said the complexities on how tourism and bed taxes could be levied had the potential to impact on the visitor industry.

Tourism visitor expenditure in Rotorua was $803 million for the year ending June 30 - an increase of 6.3 per cent on the previous year, she said.

''While these visitors will naturally have an impact on our local infrastructure, tourism is part of our DNA here in Rotorua and a key contributor to the vibrancy of this region.''

Tourism Industry Aotearoa regional chairman for Rotorua hotels Blair Chalmers agreed and said at the end of the day ''you don't want to shoot the golden goose''.

Its 12 Rotorua members had collectively created 1100 jobs and had a huge spend on local goods, services and rates, he said.

Mr Chalmers was concerned how a border tax would be implemented and distributed while the targeted tax on accommodation had ''caused huge controversy in Auckland as you are just taxing one small sector of the industry''.

In his view it was a bit ambiguous to ask tourists for more money when no one knew how the region already benefited from their cash.

But Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers Association chairwoman Glenys Searancke
said in Australia tourists paid a bed tax and she believed that was the way forward.

''You don't even notice there because it's just added on to the bottom of your account, it's not huge by any stretch. I have always supported that option because it would go directly to Rotorua.''

Council strategy group manager Jean-Paul Gaston said the city was already experiencing increased pressure on roads.

It had sufficient water, sewerage infrastructure and facilities like public toilets and car parking to meet current needs but there was increasing pressure with continued local growth and tourism.

''Rotorua is a key visitor destination contributing to tourism nationally and Central Government investment is crucial to ensure we're able to cater for increased tourism as well as the local growth we're experiencing.''

Minister of Tourism Paula Bennett said the Government did not believe another tax was necessary to fund tourism infrastructure.

''We've invested $100 million in Budget 2017 into the new Tourism Infrastructure Fund to support smaller councils with large visitor numbers and low ratepayer bases.

"Let's get on with the job of spending that money and getting those projects built with the money we already have, and then see what else is needed.''

New tourism fund
Rotorua Lakes Council did not apply for the first round of the Government's new $100m Tourism Infrastructure Fund but it would in the future.

Mr Donaldson said it was matched funding so it was important the council secured other partners before ''going off half cocked''.

But the council had benefited from previous schemes, he said.

Mr Gaston said funding applications needed to be aligned to priorities. The Rotorua 2030 vision refresh (The Rotorua Way) had set the direction for the next few years, identifying priorities, key projects to deliver and initiatives to explore.

The annual plan and our local tourism strategy and district spatial plan reflected the priorities identified in The Rotorua Way and it was important to have all these in place before applying for any funding, he said.