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05 June 20: Govt support for regional tourism recovery welcomed

The Government has announced up to $20.2 million will be made available to the 31 Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) across New Zealand, including Hamilton & Waikato Tourism.

Minister for Tourism Kelvin Davis has released criteria for the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme (STAPP) to secure the future of nationally and regionally significant visitor attractions, including RTOs.

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism Chief Executive, Jason Dawson, says that the organisation will need to complete an investment proposal and apply to the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment for the recovery funding.

“We can apply for up to $700,000 for the 2020/2021 financial year and detail how we will advance the goals of the New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy to create a more sustainable, productive and inclusive tourism sector for the Waikato region, including adopting a destination management approach” said Dawson.

“We can be proud as a region that we began the destination management journey back in 2016 when we adopted the Tourism Opportunities Plan. Five regional game-changers were identified, including product and experience development opportunities, industry capability and development” he added.

As part of the contestable funding available, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism must show how it will complement Tourism New Zealand’s domestic marketing activity, as well as retain its existing local government investment.

“Prior to COVID-19, domestic tourism was an anchor for the Waikato, making up 75% of our visitor market and injecting $1.2b annually into the regional economy for the year ending March 2020” says Dawson.

Minister Davis also announced this morning that one of the Waikato region’s iconic and oldest visitor attractions, Discover Waitomo, was one of the first recipients from the STAPP.

Discover Waitomo, which operates the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri Cave, Aranui Cave, The Legendary Blackwater Rafting Company and The Homestead, has been given a $4 million lifeline by the Government to safeguard its future and retain its skilled workforce.

“The businesses, tourism operators and communities of Waitomo, Te Kuiti, Otorohanga and the wider Northern King Country, rely heavily on the significant domestic and international visitation generated by the underground caves. Discover Waitomo are a significant employer in the region, and also generate economic and cultural benefits for the wider community” says Dawson.

“There is also spill over benefits to the community from the visitor economy, including all the suppliers, retailers, hospitality and accommodation providers in Waitomo and Otorohanga Districts” added Dawson.

“This additional funding support announced by the Government today will help fast-track the restart and rebuilding of our sector and Waikato’s visitor economy” said Dawson.