A tourism levy may deter people from visiting the region, but could also take pressure off businesses funding tourism promotion through their rates, experts say.
Levies on tourists were raised as a possible means of gathering revenue as part of a 10-point plan at the recent Local Government New Zealand Conference held in Rotorua.
Tourism Industry Association Hotel sector regional chairman Blair Chalmers said it was unlikely hotels would support a tourist tax, but he would not be able to say until he saw a draft of a plan. "I probably wouldn't support it ... the Government is going to tax tourists leaving the country, and if we want tourism to be our biggest industry that is probably not the best way to go.
"It could inhibit people coming, they might think 'oh, we will go to Australia instead where they don't tax us'."
Rotorua Association of Motels president Barry Mabey previously told the Rotorua Daily Post the charge could potentially provide a viable option that would save local businesses money on tourism promotion rates. But, Mr Chalmers thought it would be unlikely tourism providers would see a respite in rates if a tourist levy was introduced.
"Tourists use all the facilities in a town - the supermarket, the museum - not just tourism businesses."
The Rotorua Lakes Council declined to comment about the likelihood of introducing a tourism levy, but chief financial officer Thomas Colle said the direct spend on tourism marketing by the council for 2014/2015 was $1,588,000.
This was funded entirely from the council's Business and Economic Development targeted rate, which itself is funded 80 per cent from business, 10 per cent from the industrial sector and 10 per cent from farming.
He said the total amount contributed by tourism businesses in 2014/15 through their voluntary Partnership Programme with Destination Rotorua was about $730,000. Of this, $630,000 was spent in 2014/15 and the balance has been carried forward for marketing projects this year.
Skyline Rotorua general manager Bruce Thomasen said about 100 tourism providers voluntarily contributed towards marketing Rotorua.
"We understand that we need more money to promote the city and to remain in good growth and we've come up with the voluntary payment partnership which has enabled that to happen. Legislation takes out the voluntary part of that," he said.
"We are the pioneers of the Famously [Rotorua] partnership programme and it's been regarded within the New Zealand tourism industry as a very good initiative."
He said the costs for the Famously Rotorua campaign came out of marketing costs. " ... from our perspective it's about pooling our money together with other operators. It is better than us trying to spend it on our own. By having a collective amount the city is able to make a lot more impact in our key markets."
* $1,588,000 spent on tourism marketing for 2014/15, funded from the Business and Economic Development targeted rate.
* Business and Economic Development targeted rate funded 80 per cent from business, 10 per cent from industrial sector and 10 per cent from farming.
* Tourism businesses have a voluntary partnership programme with Destination Rotorua, and contributed $730,000 towards tourism marketing for 2014/15.
* $100,000 of the funds gathered from the partnership programme has been carried over.