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Mr Muller was in the resort town yesterday. He visited Coronet Peak and took the opportunity to unveil a $100million tourism fund to back new ideas to reinvigorate the tourism industry in the wake of fallout from Covid-19.
Mr Muller told the Otago Daily Times the mood on the ground was "sobering" but there was some optimism.
That optimism hinged on the much touted "transtasman bubble" and some certainty from the Government about when that might occur.
Tourism, hospitality, and retail operators were "instinctively" looking at ways to adapt to keep their businesses going, Mr Muller said.
"Businesses have at their core a sense of optimism, that is what gets them up every day.
The Tourism Accelerator grant programme is the second announcement from the new party leader in as many weeks, before this year’s general election, following last week’s JobStart policy.
It would be open to tourism operators, businesses, iwi or groups of investors with ideas to stimulate demand in tourism.
Mr Muller said the Government had been slow to give any detail about what sat behind a "very large sum of money" referring to the Government’s $400million targeted Tourism Recovery Fund announced in this year’s Budget.
However, when pressed on details of National’s programme Mr Muller did not offer specifics, except to say it was natural that the funding would gravitate to tourist-centric areas like Queenstown and Rotorua.
Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult said the programme hinged on the details.
"There’s no specifics - the interesting thing is what the details are."
He said promotion of domestic tourism and opening the transtasman bubble were critical.
Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan met Mr Muller yesterday to discuss dealing with the economic effects of the pandemic in the district and part of that was the need to keep tourism infrastructure in place so operators were still there when the recovery happened.
Enterprise Dunedin’s director John Christie said he would have to wait until there were specifics as to where that funding would go, but welcomed funding to the tourism sector.
"It is a sector that will take longer than most to reach any sort of recovery."
In Southland, Deep South chief executive Graham Budd could not be reached for comment.