Source : Dan Hutchinson, http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/3625152/Stewart-Is-levy-step-closer
Stewart Island will have a visitors' levy imposed by the end of the year if a new law is approved. However, one of the two companies expected to collect the levy opposes it. Invercargill MP Eric Roy introduced a member's bill into Parliament on Thursday that would give the Southland District Council the power to charge visitors to Stewart Island. Mr Roy said a fee of about $5 would be charged to each visitor to the island via the ferry service (Stewart Island Experience) or Stewart Island Flights. Stewart Island Flights managing director Raymond Hector said the company was opposed to the idea. He said the company would be expected to administer the scheme and pay the GST on the extra $5 with no reimbursement. The fee will be used to help pay for infrastructure on the island that is used by visitors. The cost of things like toilets, walking tracks and other amenities is currently paid for by fewer than 400 locals. Council chief executive Dave Adamson said there was some leeway in the legislation to use part of the levy to cover the administration costs. He said passing the levy into law was necessary to ensure it was a cost that was added evenly to both transport providers. About 40,000 people visit the island each year and the levy should raise about $160,000, shaving hundreds of dollars off the rates bill of each resident. Residents, property and business owners on the island would be exempt from the charge. The Southland District Council (Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy) Empowering Act 2010 would enable the council to impose fees via contract arrangements with the transport operators. "We have a captive situation here where people either come by boats or aeroplanes," Mr Roy said. He said he had been working with the community on the issue since 1994 and most people supported it. It was not proposed to compensate the transport operators for collecting the levy although they would earn interest off the money before it was due to be passed on.