Labour's proposed $25 levy on overseas tourists wouldn't have an impact on tourism numbers and would help create the infrastructure needed to cope with them, says Jacinda Ardern.
The party's plan for the $25 tax on overseas tourists here, if it is elected in September, has drawn sharp criticism from the industry.
But its leader told Morning Report tourism numbers had "continued to boom" after a biosecurity levy was introduced by the National government several years ago.
Ms Ardern said the continuing rise in numbers meant a new levy was needed to provide the necessary infrastructure.
"With this levy, it will enable us to invest heavily in tourism, double the rate for some funds we have now, and also for conservation."
Money from the new levy would not go into a general fund, but would be ring-fenced for tourism projects, she said.
When combined with the existing levy, the new tax would see international visitors fork out $47 to enter New Zealand, but Ms Ardern said Labour doubted that would put anybody off.
"That is still lower than what is charged for going into Australia, for instance, and significantly lower than what is charged going into the UK. Other countries do this and don't find it has an impact on their tourism."