Stewart Island Visitor Levy Bill Passes

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 — 5:14 PM

The Southland District Council (Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy) Empowering Bill passed into law today allowing a levy to be placed on visitors to the island.

The bill’s sponsor Eric Roy said the island hosts many short-term visitors but has a small permanent population.

The small rating base of the island with around 400 permanent residents meant it was difficult to fund infrastructure needed for the rapidly increasing number of visitors.

Roy said more and more cruise ships were visiting the pristine port of Oban and the bill would give the Southland District Council the legal power to collect and spend levies on visitors.

It used to be rare for a cruise ship to visit Stewart Island, but there were 13 last year with 19 expected this year.
That amount of visitors put huge strain on the infrastructure which was expensive to upgrade, he said.

The bill was supported by Labour but Annette King disagreed with an assertion by Roy that the bill did not set a precedent, she argued the Chatham Islands were in similar position and could equally benefit from such a law.

Both Roy and King noted the recent sinking of the Easy Rider.

Of the nine on board the boat when it went down almost a week ago, only one person survived.

Roy said the tragedy had hit the Bluff and Stewart Island communities hard.

The bill passed on a voice vote.

MPs began the first reading of the South Taranaki District Council (Cold Creek Rural Water Supply) Bill the bill authorizes the transfer of the Cold Creek Rural Water Supply Scheme to Cold Creek Rural Water Supply Limited.

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