$2.7 million to develop two Games

Arthur Klap
Arthur Klap
A total of $2.75 million in funding for the Winter Games New Zealand has been announced by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, enabling the two-yearly event to keep growing.

Mr Joyce said on Friday $1.5 million from the Major Events Fund would go to the 2015 Winter Games, plus another $1.25 million for the 2017 event.

WGNZ chief executive Arthur Klap said he was delighted to receive support from the Government, which would allow the games to develop into new markets.

Mr Klap said he would work with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to grow the games into key markets, specifically Asia.

WGNZ 2017 would be a key qualifying event for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea.

''What we have achieved in just three events in terms of our standing on the world stage is nothing short of remarkable,'' Mr Klap said.

''Having the confidence of Government backing for the 2015 and 2017 events will allow us to build on this and continue to present New Zealand at the forefront of winter sports with all the associated economic benefits, not just for the host region of the Southern Lakes but also New Zealand as a whole.''

A postevent analysis by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment showed in 2013 the event generated $7,084,146 in net economic benefit for New Zealand.

''This event generates excellent international exposure for New Zealand, showcasing some of our most spectacular scenery,'' Mr Joyce said.

''The games also deliver a significant economic boost for the country, as many of the athletes choose to stay for an extended period of time to train in New Zealand in the lead-up to their event.

''Further investment through the Major Events Development Fund will ensure this event continues to achieve success, while building a platform to become independent of Government support in the future.''

Mr Joyce said no other programme combined as many winter sports in one event at a World Cup or Continental Cup level and it was also the only elite winter snow sport competition in which able bodied and adaptive athletes competed alongside each other.

Seventeen athletes who competed in the 2013 Winter Games went on to win medals at this year's Sochi Winter Olympics, including five gold medals.

''Winter Games New Zealand is a home-grown event that is consistent with the Government's strategy of investing in events that deliver economic results and successfully showcase New Zealand internationally as a desirable visitor and major events destination.''