Mayor persists with tourist tax

6 Mar

By Alana Ogilvy, Bond University Journalism Student 

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate continues to push for a tax on tourists despite the state government dismissing the idea.

Cr  Tate wants to ease the burden a rate rise  by introducing a controversial taxing system to help  subsidise the costs of local infrastructure.

The mayor’s media advisor Hermann Vorster said Cr Tate was too busy for interview but reiterated his previous comments.

The mayor said that  tourism costs are paid by the 239,000 ratepayers where if taxing was introduced, the tourists could fund the essential development and upgrades the Gold Coast requires.

“Right now, local ratepayers are already paying a tourism levy as part of their general rates – they just don’t know it because it’s not itemised,” he said in a statement.

“An incredibly small levy on the city’s 12 million visitors could help fund vital beach repair, an arts and culture precinct, and new attractions.”

Cr Tom Tate said the idea is only at an early stage with no set plans other than a desire to benefit ratepayers and have the government approve the legislation.

“The industry has an open mind, I have an open mind, and all I ask is for the state government to have an open mind too,” he said.

Some businesses on the Gold Coast are concerned about the legislation, which could cause them to lose their main customers, the tourists.

Gold Coast local and Surfers Paradise store manager Carlie Shipman appreciated the effort to lower rates but was apprehensive with the idea.

“A rate rise would be helpful for me personally though we’re a shop right next to a hotel, our main customers here are all the tourists and I couldn’t imagine what would happen if the tourists stop visiting,” she said.

While some tourists disagree with the extra taxes making their holidays more expensive, there are still plenty who agree the Gold Coast is a great city to visit and is worth the little increase.

Byron Bay resident Will Griffin said that the tax scheme implemented wouldn’t be significant enough to deter him or his friends from returning to the Gold Coast

“We come here for a boys’ trip a few times a year and stay together somewhere in Surfers. A few extra dollars each time wouldn’t make a difference to the great nights we have here,” he said.

The Queensland Government and Tourism Queensland have publicly dismissed the  plans. No-one was available for comment or returned calls made by Bond Gold Coast News.

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