As you can imagine, I read with some interest the controversy earlier in the week when the CEO of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce was criticised by the PM for reportedly suggesting that Tauranga shops should ramp up prices during cruise ship visits.  I am not sure that this is exactly what my colleague from Tauranga actually said.  If he did I am with the PM on this issue.  We really should be doing as much as possible to give tourists a great experience of New Zealand.  In particular we want them to tell their friends back home about how New Zealand was great value for money, not one of those countries that seeks to rip tourists off at every opportunity.

This issue is very current here in Switzerland with hotels, restaurants and shops preparing to ramp up prices and impose otherwise unacceptable terms on those about to descend on the area for the meeting of the World Economic Forum.  The event has long outgrown the town of Davos itself.  Our Trade Minister Tim Groser is having to be accommodated 15 minutes away in Closters (which isn’t that bad) but Australia’s Trade Minister is having to stay an hour away from Davos (his PM and Treasurer are going also so get accommodation in or close to Davos).  There are reports that Richard Branson can’t get accommodation any closer than Zurich.

How are hotels responding?  Well prices are way up reflecting demand that is well ahead of supply.  That is to be expected.  But what annoys me is that many hotels are demanding that people book for a full week at these exorbitant prices, even though a booking of two or three days is all that is required.  Moreover the hotels expect the right to be able to sell these already paid for rooms to new clients once guests have checked out, or before they have checked in.  I was kind of hopeful that the international financial crisis would encourage a rebellion on the part of those attending the WEF meeting but there are no signs of this happening.

Getting back to New Zealand there is an immediate action that the New Zealand Government could take to make New Zealand better value for foreign visitors and encourage them to shop in New Zealand.  We could intriduce a GST refund scheme similar to that operating in jurisdictions such as Singapore or the UK.  I must dust off a letter I wrote to the previous Government on this topic.


One Response to “Tourism”

  1. Andrew D Says:

    That seems like a no-brainer, even Australia has GST refund! (Their GST is more similar to ours than UK for example.)

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