The National Party says it will create a multi-million dollar fund for projects to boost the struggling tourism sector if elected this year.
It has just announced the Tourism Accelerator grant programme involving a $100 million investment over four years, and will be split 70-30 between government funding and private sector investment.
Leader Todd Muller said businesses and tourism operators would need confidence to keep their doors open and retain employees.
The fund would give businesses the opportunity to innovate so that they could be ready when the border re-opened, Muller said.
"They are already working on different ways of attracting those tourists, or promoting New Zealand to those tourists, different ways of promoting what they do in terms of a tourist experience and it's those projects that we will stand beside and ensure can happen."
The sector has signalled it is willing to fund 30 percent of the projects, Muller said.
"This is a sector that's one of New Zealand's largest export earners, we cannot let it die on the operating table. We have to get it jump started and part of doing that is as the people return, and the new tourist options developed and considered, the National government will stand beside them," he said.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the proposal is out of step because protecting tourism assets is the bigger focus right now.
"That's why we put aside $400 million to support that and we had the announcement about Waitomo earlier this week and there'll be more to come," Robertson said.
"Innovation is important but the feedback we're getting from business is that it's that protection of assets right now is what matters."
The programme would be managed by an independent board appointed by the Tourism Minister and salaries for elected members would be paid through the fund, Muller said.