Price hike for Great Walks one year on
Love it or hate it, more kiwis are doing the Great Walks since the differential fees got introduced. Here's a summary from the article... # Price hike for Great Walks: More money, fewer tourists [article link](https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/388842/price-hike-for-great-walks-more-money-fewer-tourists) >Increased pricing for tourists on some of the Great Walks tracks this past summer has meant far fewer tourists but an extra $2.4 million for the Department of Conservation. > >The 2018/19 season had 31 percent fewer international adult visitors to the tracks, but 37 percent more adult New Zealanders compared to the previous year. ![visitor figures](https://www.radionz.co.nz/assets/news/194480/four_col_Screen_Shot_2019-05-09_at_1.26.33_PM.jpg) >The trial had three objectives: >*improve access to the Great Walks for people usually resident in New Zealand >*increase the proportion of costs that are received from international users >*charge international visitors a fee that more fairly reflects the high value of the experience > >"The independent evaluation of the differential pricing trial found the trial met two of its three objectives - increasing access for New Zealand residents to the walks and international visitors contributing more towards the costs of the walks," Ms White said. > >"However, the third objective - that the fee more fairly reflected the true value of these experiences - had a more mixed response. New Zealand residents generally supported it but international visitors less so. While we want to ensure access for New Zealand residents on these walks, it's also important we listen to our international guests. Next season's results will inform how we price our experiences longer term." > >The extra $2.4m from the trial would be used to maintain the tracks so the department could focus its funding on core conservation work, she said.
The popular Great Walks all pass through some stunning country, there is no denying that. But so do countless other trails in NZ. Putting the marketing hype aside for a moment, from a tourists perspective, these tracks have more appeal over others for lots of reasons. Using the Milford as an example - Even though the track is remote, transport is easy to arrange from the other side of the world. It is actually part of the booking process. You don't even have to go searching for it. - you are guaranteed a bed in the hut at night. Its like booking any other accommodation - facilities are of a very high standard. - the huts have wardens who are well trained. Not only are they are wealth of information (even taking group tours), but it also means that help is not far aways should something go wrong. - delay on the trail is unlikely, therefore not throwing out your whole holiday itinerary. When I walked the Milford, the group the day behind us got choppered over a washed out bridge. - the trail footbed is wide, compacted, not particularly rugged, or particularly steep. - prices are reasonable - there are countless trail guides out there stating exactly what to expect along every step of the trail, and mile marker poles that tell you exactly where you are - limiting the number of walkers per day gives it some extra status & exclusivity (it must be special) All of the above open up the walk to a much wider audience. Its incredibly low risk, incredibly accessible for the unfit and inexperienced, runs to a dependable time table, doesn't require much gear, and is incredibly well supported. The Milford could not have been set up any better as a tourist attraction (you should stop thinking of it as a walk, its actually one of your more famous tourist attractions). All it needs is its own reality TV show, similar to Bondi beach. It is little wonder that locals have trouble getting a spot when competing with the global client base that has been cultivated by your tourism board. So far, DOC have proposed a change to only one of the above in an effort to make it less appealing to tourists. Changing others would likely have a similar effect on reducing demand. Alternatively, they could develop other trails but not set them up as tourist attractions, but I doubt that they could look past the potential tourist revenue and instead see the trail as a local investment. As a tourist, do I like 2 tier pricing systems when I visit developed countries? No, not really. It sends the wrong message that I am just a cash cow to be exploited. Travel is already expensive because of the limited support network that you have access to. I would be equally unsupportive of a 2 tier system in Australia for our public tourist attractions/facilities/beaches/parks etc, most of which are subsided or wholly run with public money My 2 cents, Moh.
the great walks are largely foothpaths, which gets them very good reviews and attracts a lot more people than rough tracks do
I disagree with charging double for tourists, however I do thing Kiwis should get some recognition that DOC is funded by taxes and we pay those taxes. If it were me I would charge tourists maybe 25% more, that seems reasonable. As for the great walks themselves, I agree with Waynowski, they're not real tracks and they attract a much broader range of people. A great example is doing the Heaphy and Wangapeka back to back, the contrast in terms of track condition, huts and people is significant - and the Wangapeka is a very well maintained track. The answer is more tracks, not charging more. The Kepler was originally built to provide an alternative to the Milford and Routeburn, and now all three tracks fill up quickly. There is so much that can be done out there but DOC has been stripped of their resources under National and that never works.
The tax argument is a very tenuous one, though. Exactly who pays how much tax and what it's used for is not well defined. Everyone pays GST, including tourists. People who drive tend to pay tax on petrol, which might be spent on roads but that's not set in stone, and some of what they pay goes towards an ACC premium to cover the chance of any vehicle-related accidents whilst they're here. Residents (who work) pay varying rates and amounts of income tax depending on how much they earn. Alongside this, direct benefits that people receive aren't always dished out proportional to the amount of tax paid. They're not meant to be, either. Some people in NZ pay little or no tax at various times of their lives, but still get benefits derived from tax money, and there are often good reasons for that. We have taxes to collect money and redistribute it for building whichever society we want to live in, and we don't traditionally say that people on high incomes should get proportionally better benefits whilst those without work should get nothing. I'm cautiously okay with differential charging, keeping in mind that it's only being used on a subset of Great Walks that are excessively popular with international visitors to the point of breaking them. I just think we should be honest about it and why we're declare doing it. In my view it's reasonable to argue that the high price is closer to the real cost of actually running the thing and we really don't want to subsidise people's holidays so directly, but that we also want to make it easier for people who live in this society to visit these place.
I wonder after reading all comments whether something in the middle would work. The truth is we can all be quite nimbyish. We want fewer tourists on our great walks but we want their dollars. We dont want to create more great walks by converting our favorite places and some of those are already getting as many tourists as the great walks. Obviously suggesting do nothing isnt working but we dont want any of the alternatives. We cant have our cake without trampling a few fern leaves. How about some second tier tracks still through stunning places but not great walks. Im thinking standard grade tracks like we like and huts of a basic to standard quality. Not great walk mansions. Tourist have to buy a 6 month hut pass to use and the rest of us pay usual hut costs. Most people that walk the great walks will still do these as they are not capable of doing these tracks but there are a lot of tourists quite capable of the tracks we like and will be glad of an opportunity to escape the crowds.
Izogi...I understand how tax works, my point is that tourists do not pay any income tax, it’s not a literal argument but more a moral one - income taxes help fund DOC and we live here, so that should be recognised at some level.
great walks tracks were built long before tourists were anything like the no's they are now, the great walks infrastructure was built very largely on NZer's tax money... NZer's paid for it but struggle to gain access to it as they compete with massive no's of tourists.
Hi @jmeyer. But GST also helps fund DOC. The pro-tourist argument is that tourists as a whole drain *much* much less from our infrastructure and services than what they pay in tax. We're already taking most of their GST and spending it on ourselves, for things like more hospital treatment and improved education for our kids, income tax cuts for ourselves, and whatever else. Is that fair? Some tourists might think it isn't. Some businesses might think that their company tax, which comes mostly from international tourist business, should also be being used to support tourist services more. I'm cautiously accepting of it, personally. My main concern before implementation (and maybe also now) was about to what extent we'd be required to prove we're residents when we're in our own country. That said, residents set the rules. We advertise massively to attract tourists so the country can benefit from it financially, not so they can necessarily just visit and leave with no benefit for us. If people want to live here they can aim for permanent residency to become part of our society, or just live here if they're Australian. That gets you a vote every election (even more than citizens who've been overseas too long), and also a DOC discount. @Moh_Oz's point is a valid one too, though. If too many tourists are put off by the rules then it doesn't work as well. I just think that saying "we pay tax and they don't" doesn't really hold up too well because it's such an easy argument to counter.
income tax is paid on earnings. Tourists dont earn so how can they pay income tax? However nearly all of them stay at least some nights in hotels where staff earn income and pay tax and goods and services are purchased by the hotel on the tourists behalf. Tourist go on various tours and adventures which are geared and priced to the tourist and the suppliers of those services pay tax. Definitely they dont pay as much as us but they do indirectly pay a lot more than the gst.
What does it matter if toursts pay taxes ?. You have a price & they pay it or they don't.
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