Sunday, April 14, 2024

DOC concession fee waiver to end

The concession fee waiver in place for tourism businesses operating on public conservation land will end on 31 December 2021, the Department of Conservation (DOC) has confirmed.

Tourism concessionaires who use public conservation land have had nearly two years’ worth of fees waived to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on their sector.

The initial waiver period of 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2021 was extended a further six months in May to provide some certainty for tourism operators over the quieter, winter months.

“Concession fees are vital revenue for DOC in carrying out key biodiversity, visitor and heritage services. Once the fee waiver ends we estimate that we would have lost about $10 million of revenue as a result of the waiver. This impacts on the work of protecting our special places and species for the benefit of New Zealanders and future international tourists,” Deputy Director-General Policy and Visitors Bruce Parkes said.

“We acknowledge that times remain tough, and there will still be some tourism operators who are struggling. DOC is committed to working with those operators on a case-by-case basis, where needed. However, after nearly two years and with New Zealanders continuing to travel domestically, the Government has determined the fee waiver should end.

“When the Government first waived the fees at the beginning of the pandemic, it was done at speed to quickly provide support to tourism businesses at an uncertain time. But it wasn’t a targeted approach and since then the Government has put more resources into the businesses and tourism operators which need it most.”

One example is the $1.219b which has gone into the Jobs for Nature programme which has created jobs for tourism workers impacted by COVID-19, he said.

“Almost all tourism concession fees raised by DOC are based on the level of operators’ activity, so if an operator has fewer customers they will pay proportionately less in fees. If they temporarily stop operating, they will pay no ‘activity’ fee but will continue to be charged annual management and monitoring fees,” Mr Parkes said.

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