The following letter, written by Wendy London, was published in the Taranaki Daily News on 7 April 2010. Although written in opposition to a proposal by the Marlborough Sounds Harbourmaster, it clearly states the counter-productivity of imposing taxes and other levies on cruise ships and their passengers where such taxes are imposed merely as a revenue-gathering exercise or for unspecified purposes.
The proposal by the Marlborough Sounds Harbourmaster to impose a levy on vessels calling into Picton would not only have a negative impact on domestic marine traffic but also on New Zealand’s growing cruise industry. Levies imposed on cruise ships in other cruise destinations have resulted in the withdrawal of those ships from those destinations.
For example, the imposition of levies by the State of Alaska has resulted in the withdrawal of cruise ships from a destination which traditionally has been perceived to be popular amongst cruise passengers.The net result of these withdrawals includes a loss of revenue for the State and its ports and a loss of revenues and jobs for its port communities.
In fact, Alaska now faces a loss of 1,800 tourism-related jobs and US$72 million in revenues because of that State’s US$50 per passenger tax. The Marlborough proposal would add approximately $4,500 to the cost of each visit to the Sounds by a medium-sized cruise ship with approximately 1,500 passengers. Given that such a ship might visit Marlborough 6 to 8 times over a single cruise season, the cost is not insignificant.
Marlborough in particular represents a largely untapped destination for increasingly sophisticated cruise passengers from all over the world who are drawn to that region because of its reputation for fine wine and food and spectacular scenery. Any proposal which has the effect of discouraging cruise lines from calling into Picton and/or other ports in the Marlborough District and which therefore deprives cruise passengers of a rich and rewarding experience should be withdrawn.
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