Southern areas priority for tourism funding grants

Stuart Nash. Photo: ODT files
Stuart Nash. Photo: ODT files
About $13 million of tourism funding is on the way, and the Queenstown Lakes District and Fiordland have been identified as two priority areas for grants.

The Tourism Infrastructure Fund(TIF), which provides up to $25 million per annum, was established by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in 2017 to support communities under pressure from tourism growth and help them develop tourism-related infrastructure, for example, public toilets and showers, car parks and footpaths, waste disposal and water treatment facilities and freedom camping sites.

It last allocated money pre-Covid, in November 2019.

Applications from Kaikoura, Mackenzie-Mt Cook, and South Westland districts would also be prioritised.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said the fifth funding round, with updated criteria for projects to be prioritised, would open this month.

‘‘It will now better reflect the reality that jobs and businesses in some regions, particularly the South Island, are harder hit by the loss of international tourists than other regions.

"I have already identified that five regions face greater uncertainty given their reliance on overseas visitors.

However, Mr Nash said all councils would be eligible to apply if they lacked adequate revenue sources to cater for visitors and community groups with council backing could also apply.

Projects would provide local employment as tourism towns worked to diversify their economies and the new infrastructure would also ensure the quality of visitor experience was improved for when tourists returned.

Mr Nash said the final size of the funding pool was still to be determined, but it was expected to be about $13 million.

To date, the Otago region, which includes the Queenstown Lakes, has received $5.3 million from the fund.

Previous grants had gone towards improving safety at the Crown Range viewing point ($193,000), and a public toilet programme ($2.39 million), and it also received $788,000 to promote responsible and sustainable camping in 2019, from the responsible camping fund.

Queenstown Lakes mayor Jim Boult said the council had not yet decided what it would apply for in the next TIF round.

‘‘But we’ll most certainly be applying for utilisation of the funds for some good works".

Southland District Council mayor Gary Tong said he would speak to the council and the Fiordland Community Board to identify projects that would benefit the community.

‘‘Both in some employment while we wait for borders and that to open, and for the future of the visitors when they do arrive,'' he said.

He was keen to discuss projects with the community board.

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