South Island tourism regions kick into action


South Island tourism regions most impacted by the absence of international tourists are getting support to gear up for the return of visitors with a special “kick-start” fund.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash says the confirmation of dates for reopened borders allows the fund to open for applications. It was created as part of the $200 million Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan last year.

“The accelerated re-opening of our borders is a moment to celebrate for our tourism sector,” said Stuart Nash.

“Businesses, workers and whole communities can now look forward to April and beyond, and start planning for a new buzz of activity.

“The $49 million kick-start fund is now available for those businesses who are ready to scale up operations or come out of hibernation to prepare for the return of international visitors, starting with vaccinated Australian travellers from 11.59pm on 12 April.

“Applications to the fund will formally open on 1 April, and will then be assessed and processed by local agencies in each region. Payments are expected as soon as possible.

“Tourism operators in five key South Island tourism regions have worked extraordinarily hard to stay connected with the visitor economy and the travel, culture, hospitality and recreation sectors.

“Nevertheless some had to reduce opening hours, scale-down activities, go into temporary hibernation, or switch their energies into other projects like Jobs for Nature schemes to improve facilities on conservation, council, iwi or private land.

“Operators in Fiordland; Queenstown and Wanaka; Kaikōura; the glacier region of Westland; and Mackenzie District-Aoraki Mt Cook are potentially eligible for the new support.

“Businesses can now start preparing their applications, and will need time to obtain verified financial records that show their pre-COVID income. 

“Tourism businesses that existed prior to the global pandemic are eligible for grants worth two weeks of pre-COVID revenue, between $10,000 and $50,000 each, if they had a fifty percent drop in annual revenue compared to 2019-2020 levels.

“The grants could be used to refresh facilities or marketing, train and hire new staff, or source new stock in readiness for opening. It will take time and money, and is exactly what the tourism kick-start fund is for.

“The kick-start fund will be administered on the government’s behalf by local agencies, or lead entities, in each of the regions. The organisations are well-placed to connect tourism operators with the support they need locally, and work with them to help scale up.

The agencies are:

  • Development West Coast for Westland District, focussing on tourism around the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier areas
  • Queenstown Lakes District Council for businesses in Wanaka, Queenstown and surrounding areas
  • Great South for businesses in Southland District, focussing around Te Anau and Fiordland
  • ChristchurchNZ for businesses in Kaikōura and Mackenzie Districts.

“Since the global pandemic arrived in New Zealand, we have invested $600 million in targeted support to the tourism sector, on top of broad based support through the Wage Subsidy, Resurgence Support Payment and other funds to support jobs and businesses.

“We have kept airlines flying here with the air freight subsidy scheme for exporters. The tourism sector can now build on that and scale up for the movement of people as well as freight.

“The Prime Minister’s trade missions to Australia, Asia, the United States and Europe will be a key part of re-igniting our international tourism. People want to visit here, live here, work here and study here. We will keep supporting the sector to rebuild,” Stuart Nash said.

Details of eligibility criteria and contact details for lead entities are on the tourism recovery section of the MBIE website