“Tourism is hugely important to New Zealand. It creates jobs and brings in billions of dollars to the economy. That’s why it’s important that we keep investing so we continue to attract high-value tourists and give them an amazing visitor experience,” Mrs Bennett says.
The Tourism Infrastructure Fund will provide $100 million over the next four years in partnership with local councils and other community organisations, for projects like new carparks, toilets and freedom camping facilities.
“The fund is about helping communities respond to demand and addressing capacity constraints. It will also facilitate future growth in some of our newer tourism regions as well as the main tourist hubs.
“Government is funding tourism in a number of different ways. That’s why the Tourism Infrastructure Fund has been announced alongside a $76 million funding increase for DOC to upgrade and develop tourist facilities on conservation land and to expand the great walks network.
“The Tourism Infrastructure Fund will provide infrastructure such as toilets and carparks, but we’re also prepared to consider projects like visitor information centres, and feasibility studies for infrastructure projects on a case-by-case basis as part of the fund.
“The industry has clearly told us that infrastructure is their top priority and we’ve responded to that. We’re moving from a focus of just boosting tourist numbers to also attracting higher-value tourists to all regions. This funding will ensure we have the capacity to do that.”
“Successful projects will demonstrate value for money and be co-funded by applicants, who will need to show that other funding options have been fully exhausted.
“Government is stepping in to help ensure we have the right infrastructure to support this important industry, especially in areas with high visitor numbers but small ratepayer bases. However, local government still has the lead role to play in building and maintaining that infrastructure. The private sector is also playing its part by investing in new and expanded commercial attractions and hotels.
“Government will continue to work with councils and the industry to consider larger tourism projects which will be funded outside of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund. We’ve done this in the past with the Hundertwasser Art Centre in Northland and we’re open to considering other opportunities.
“Last year international tourism expenditure reached $14.5 billion, which is more than 20 per cent of New Zealand’s total exports of goods and services. It’s also a significant employer, generating around 188,000 jobs directly, and a further 144,000 indirectly,” Mrs Bennett says.
This fund is made up of $60.5 million in new money from Budget 2017 and $41.5 million in funds which have been reprioritised from the Tourism Growth Partnership and the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund. Of that, $2 million over four years has been provided to manage the fund.