The government is stepping in to support local communities build up tourism facilities through a new funding round with a special focus on Matariki commemorations.
“As we prepare for the return of international tourists and increasing numbers of Kiwis returning home, we are aware of the pressure many communities faced from visitor numbers prior to the global COVID19 pandemic,” said Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.
“We are standing beside local communities to co-fund important tourism infrastructure that many small towns and districts cannot afford by themselves. Applications open today for councils to seek grants through the next round of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
“Tourism is hugely important to the economy. We need quality infrastructure and facilities to enjoy our country. This funding aims to protect and enhance our reputation for offering quality experiences as we get ready to open borders for visitors,” Stuart Nash said.
“This year’s funding round will have a special emphasis on physical infrastructure to support Aotearoa’s unique new mid-winter public holiday marking Matariki,” said Associate Tourism Minister Peeni Henare.
“I encourage local councils to put real thought into the infrastructure they want as part of a growing focus on the significance of Matariki. I hope to see them being creative with their applications for funds.
“Ideas could involve redeveloping council reserves to include safe stargazing areas with low-impact lighting and shelters. It might see upgraded walkways and interpretive signs around important food-gathering sites for local iwi, like wetlands, historic gardens, forests, rivers and the ocean.
“Matariki will be our first public holiday that recognises Te Ao Māori and will be an occasion that is uniquely ours, starting this year on 22 June. Now is the time to start planning to promote it to the world”, said Peeni Henare.
“The Tourism Infrastructure Fund has supported councils since 2017, helping build more than 200 projects at popular visitor destinations. We set aside $16.5 million for this funding round in our $200 million Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Reset Plan last year,” Stuart Nash said.
“Councils will have a greater chance of receiving funding if the project ensures visitors contribute to the ongoing costs of infrastructure, if it can be built using carbon-neutral materials, and it makes the best use of technology. Projects should also retain community support for tourism and ensure high quality experiences.
“Over the years, the Tourism Infrastructure Fund has supported a wide range of notable projects that have improved the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.
“From boat ramps to scenic coastal walkways, essential wastewater treatment plants, wharves, park and ride facilities, innovative solar-powered rubbish bins, campsite kitchen and toilet blocks, the fund has so far helped build assets with $76.3 million funding support,” Stuart Nash said.
Applications are open to all councils from today, and close on 28 March.
For more information, visit the Tourism Infrastructure Fund page on the MBIE website.