Stewart Island visitor levy is under review

The Stewart Island visitor levy is under scrutiny with plans to triple the fee.

Southland District Council is considering whether to increase the levy from $5 to $15 as part of a levy policy and bylaw review.

The plans have been out for consultation which closed on Friday.

Stewart Island Community Board chairperson Jon Spraggon said an increase did not need to be ruled out, but $15 was too high.

“With tongue in cheek, we went to a dollar being a cost of living thing because they’ve supplied no figures at this present time on what the money is to be used for,” Mr Spraggon said.

“They’ve suggested all sorts of changes to the allocation of the money, but we believe that until you actually see why the money is needed, then it’s very hard to authorise a massive increase.”

That sentiment is shared by many on the island, some of whom are expected to voice their submissions to the council at the hearing.

Mr Spraggon confirmed the board will attend the hearing, saying its submission will also push for the community to have more of a say about how funding is allocated.

The only regional tourist tax in the country was introduced in 2013, collecting more than $750,000 since then.

The hearing will be held on 29 November, with the potential for submissions flow onto the 30 November.