Opinions vary about how to offset the costs of tourism – some of the suggestions:
(1) a $200 levy on international visitors
(2) a 50% surcharge on holiday home owners
(3) a levy on coastal developers
(4) a limit on visitor numbers
(5) a tourism tax on local businesses
Locals in Victoria’s coastal communities of South Gippsland and Bass Coast have mixed feelings as they weigh up the pros and cons of tourism eg
“It’s the holiday house owners who spend 90% of the money down here. Tourists come, go to Cowes, see the penguins and they’re gone the same day” – Traders’ Association.
“A levy is ridiculous. Phillip Island is tourist centre. We couldn’t exist without the tourists” – small businessman.
“A levy would kill the goose that lays the golden egg” – boutique owner.
“Holiday home owners are paying more than their fair share already” – resident.
“A levy would be costly and difficult to administer…Tourism doesn’t bring as much into the community as we thought – a few casual part time jobs, but there’s tremendous pressure on infrastructure for a few weeks” – resident.
There is now a National Seachange Taskforce representing 70 coastal councils round Australia, including Bass Coast. It is considering who should pay for road maintenance; reserves; jetties; footpaths; public toilets; carparks; footpaths; water and sewerage.
Should tourists, businesses and coastal developers contribute to the cost of infrastructure?
Some strategies round the country:
(1) Lord Howe Island has set a cap of 400 tourist beds to minimise the effects of tourism on both the environment and the local population of 400.
(2) One Queensland council has applied a surcharge on rates for absentee owners
(3) Victoria’s Surf Coast Council has imposed a tourism levy on its commercial businesses – including holiday homes if they are rented out – to pay for boat ramps, toilet blocks etc.
At the moment ‘The Current’ community newspaper in Bass Coast Shire reports that a levy such as that enforced in the Surf Coast region is not on their council’s agenda, nor does it support a rates surcharge on absentee owners.
Bass Coast CEO Alan Bawden says councillors take the view that everyone benefits from tourism so everyone should contribute.