Critical support for strategic tourism assets

  • Hon Kelvin Davis

An iconic New Zealand tourism attraction and the country’s 31 Regional Tourism Organisations are the first recipients of support from the $400 million Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, to help position the sector for recovery from COVID-19, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced today.

The plan includes a Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme which will provide up to $4 million to Discover Waitomo and up to $20.2 million for New Zealand’s 31 RTOs. This investment comes following the Tourism Recovery Ministers Group meeting to determine eligibility criteria and make urgent support decisions. 

Discover Waitomo to be safeguarded

“We are working closely with the tourism industry to help cushion the blow from COVID-19, support businesses and workers, and position the tourism sector for recovery,” Kelvin Davis said.

“Discover Waitomo is a world-renowned iconic tourism attraction that generates significant economic, cultural and employment benefits for the region.

“Without this support, it may not have been possible to preserve this key asset, so it was important to act fast. This investment will help safeguard and enable Discover Waitomo to retain a highly skilled workforce with specific skills and experience,” Kelvin Davis said.

Kelvin Davis said that where there is urgent need to fast track applications the Tourism Recovery Ministers will assess the urgency and make a decision.

“This has occurred with Discover Waitomo and other businesses we’re currently in discussions with. We don’t want bureaucracy to get in the way of supporting businesses that need it. That’s why we’re able to announce funding for Discover Waitomo today, and we will make further announcements soon,” Kelvin Davis said.

Support for New Zealand’s 31 RTOs

Up to $20.2 million has also been made available for the country’s 31 Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) to enable them to implement Destination Management and planning, along with other projects to support their regional tourism industry.

”The industry has been asking for this throughout my discussions with them. We’re investing in RTOs because they play an important role in supporting tourism. The restart, recovery and rebuilding of the sector will depend on capable and well-resourced regional organisations to lead and coordinate activities alongside the industry, stakeholders, Māori and communities,” Kelvin Davis said.

Tourism Futures Taskforce co-chairs announced

The Tourism Sector Recovery Plan also includes a public-private taskforce that will continue the work started by Tourism New Zealand to reimagine the future of tourism.

“I am pleased to announce that the New Zealand Tourism Futures Taskforce will be led by co-chairs Mayor Steve Chadwick and Grant Webster as they both have a deep understanding of the sector,” Kelvin Davis said.

“Their leadership, skills and experience will be vital to ensuring we can rebuild a sector that’s more economically, environmentally and culturally sustainable, so that it delivers on its promises to Kiwis and visitors alike.

Criteria for the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme

“This is just the beginning of the announcements, and now that the criteria has been released, we expect there to be even more requests for help.

“I’d like to thank the tourism industry for their constructive input and advice during this very difficult time, in particular the information they have provided to help shape this recovery package,” Kelvin Davis said.

Applications for the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme are open now and close on Thursday 18 June. 

To be considered strategically important, assets must be:

  1. Nationally and/or internationally recognised
  2. Be a key attraction for New Zealand or a region of New Zealand, 
  3. Responsible for significant visitation to the region where it is located and, in its absence, visitation to the region would be significantly diminished, and
  4. Generate significant spill over benefits to the region where it is located.

Tourism operators should visit the Tourism Recovery page of the MBIE website for details about the eligibility criteria of the programme, and how to apply.