In Hawaii, they call it Kamaaina Rates, in Indonesia hotel rates for locals, are highly discounted, but in New Zealand, such advantages are human rights violations under United Nations treaties.
This is according to an Australian woman blaming the New Zealand Department of Conservation in breaching international human rights by charging foreigners double the price Kiwis (locals) pay to use huts along popular walking tracks.
Wendy Faulkner says the unfair fees could be a “slippery slope” leading to more insidious forms of discrimination and has taken her complaint to the United Nations.
She earlier complained to New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission in July after being charged $130 a night to stay in DOC huts on the Routeburn Track, near Milford Sound, while her Kiwi citizen husband David paid just $65.
The HRC accepted the complaint and acted as a mediator between Faulkner and DOC.
While New Zealand’s Human Rights Act does not allow discrimination against another person based on their nationality, Faulkner’s husband David said they discovered the Government had an exemption under Section 153 of the Act.
It’s clearly unlawful under the New Zealand Human Rights Act.
New Zealand Government discrimination against non-citizens may hurt the New Zealand travel and tourism industry.
Faulkner said the fact the Government had different rules under the Human Rights Act compared to everyone else was a cause for wider concern.
Having been born in New Zealand but lived in Australia since he was 6, Faulkner has been a long-term advocate for the rights of Kiwis.
He said that the Australian Government also had been progressively introducing ever more discriminatory policies against Kiwis since 2001.
He said a country signing up to international treaties on human rights can decide who can vote in elections and who can enter their territory, but apart from that should treat everyone equally before the law.
DOC introduced the higher fees for foreigners using huts along four of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks earlier this year as part of a seven-month trial, running from October 2018 to April 2019.
They include huts along the Milford Track, Kepler, Routeburn, and Abel Tasman Coastal Walk.
New Zealand Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said at the time the trial was designed to ease pressure on the walks from high visitor numbers and to help recoup an extra $2.9 million in revenue.
Having two rates is routine in many countries. In Thailand, citizens don’t pay fees to visit National Monuments, but tourists do. The argument could be locals will use services constantly, but tourists only have a short time to enjoy and should pay a premium. Tourism, after all, is business.