4 Jun 2020

Covid-19 tourism $400m recovery funding welcomed by industry

4:48 pm on 4 June 2020

A South Island regional tourism organisation welcomes a government funding boost, but says it's unlikely to help it return to previous staff numbers.

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Photo: Waitaki District Council

Discover Waitomo and the country's 31 regional tourism organisations are the first to receive money from a government fund to help the sector recover from Covid-19 disruption.

The $400 million fund is aimed to help the depleted sector recover from the economic fallout of Covid-19.

The plan includes a programme to preserve tourist assets considered strategic, which will provide $4m to Discover Waitomo and up to $20.2m for New Zealand's 31 regional tourism organisations.

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Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro said the full details of the funding would be revealed on Monday, but it was unlikely to return the business to previous staff numbers.

The Canterbury/Otago-based business announced last month it would cut its workforce by two thirds, and Experience Mid-Canterbury also announced cuts yesterday.

Munro said the money will help it put more into marketing.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said money was being pumped to the regional tourism organisations because they played an important role in supporting the sector.

"The restart, recovery and rebuilding of the sector will depend on capable and well resourced regional organisations to lead and co-ordinate activities alongside the industry, stakeholders, Māori and communities."

Waitomo Caves, North Island of New Zealand.

Waitomo Caves. Photo: 123rf

Davis said Discover Waitomo was a "world-renowned iconic tourism attraction" that generated 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.

The tourism sector recovery plan also includes a public-private taskforce that will continue the work started by Tourism New Zealand to re-imagine the future of tourism, Davis said.

The taskforce will be led by co-chairs Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick and Tourism Holdings Ltd chief executive Grant Webster.

Davis said applications for the assets protection programme close on 18 June.

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