Regional Events Fund

Today, we were excited and grateful for the Government announcement providing further detail around the $50 million Regional Events Fund.

The Minister for Tourism, Hon Kelvin Davis, wants the fund to empower regions to make decisions around how the money is spent and identify what events are likely to drive domestic visitation. This could be investing in existing events, developing new ones, capability building or events coordination.

Purpose of the fund

  • To stimulate domestic tours and travel between regions through holding events
  • This is intended to encourage expenditure missed from international tourists

The funding can only be spent on:

1. Any type of new or existing event (sporting, cultural, entertainment, food, business)
2. Capability building and strategy development (such as hiring a person to support events development)
3. Administration of the funding (MBIE, Lead Entity and others)

Key principles of the fund

The funding will be distributed to nine groupings of Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs), using the same regional boundaries as the nine existing International Marketing Alliances (IMA). Hamilton & Waikato Tourism are part of the Thermal Explorer Highway IMA which includes Rotorua, Ruapehu and Taupō.

Other key principles include:

  • By using the IMA model will encourage collaboration between regions and ensure accountability over how money is spent.
  • Regional autonomy over how funding is distributed will be overseen by an Event Investment Panel (EIP).
  • Investment Plans can be over 2-4 years – payments will be made annually by the Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).
  • This is a high trust model between the Government and regional tourism organisations.

A Lead Entity will need to be selected from within the IMA collective to:

  • develop and manage the Investment Plan for the IMA;
  • establish the funding relationship with MBIE for the IMA collective; and
  • provide secretariat and administrative services for the Regional Event Fund and the Event Investment Panel (EIP).

Note: The Lead Entity does not have the overall decision-making power – this is made by the Event Investment Panel. The Lead Entity for the Thermal Explorer IMA is Hamilton & Waikato Tourism.

How will the fund be distributed?

Funding is being allocated across International Marketing Alliances (IMA) based on their share of international visitor spending prior to COVID-19. For our region, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism are part of the Thermal Explorer IMA which includes Rotorua, Ruapehu and Taupō and we will collectively receive $3.75m to be used over the next 2-4 years.

A full breakdown of all the funding allocated across the regions is detailed below.

International Marketing Alliance (IMA)

Amount allocated over 2-4 years ($ million)

Regional Tourism Organisations covered

Northland & Auckland


Auckland, Northland

Thermal Explorer Highway


Hamilton & Waikato, Rotorua, Ruapehu and Taupō

Pacific Coast Highway


Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Tairāwhiti Gisborne

Western North Island


Whanganui, Taranaki, Manawatu

Wellington & Wairarapa


Wellington, Wairarapa

Nelson & Marlborough


Nelson-Tasman, Marlborough

Canterbury & West Coast


Christchurch, Aoraki, Mackenzie, Hurunui, West Coast, Kaikōura

Southern Lakes


Wanaka, Queenstown, Central Otago, Fiordland

Pure Southern Land


Dunedin, Southland, Waitaki, Clutha




The remaining $2.25m will be allocated to:

  • TRENZ 2021 – our main international buying event ($2m)
  • Fund management ($0.25m)

Event Investment Panels (EIP)

Each IMA will need to establish an Event Investment Panel to develop the Investment Plan and make decisions on funding applications.

Every Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) must be represented on the Panel and can appoint by consensus to invite other key stakeholders to participate to ensure the whole region is represented. It is recommended to have a smaller panel of around eight members.

IMAs may wish to consider Panel members who were involved in the Domestic Events Fund process.

Investment Plan criteria

The key criteria for each IMA Investment Plan are as follows:

  • Consensus – all representatives on an EIP must agree with the proposed investment plan. This ensures that all regions will benefit from events funding.
  • Representation – all RTOs within an IMA grouping must be offered the opportunity to engage with, or participate on, an EIP to ensure regional contribution / benefit.
  • Feasibility and Viability – must demonstrate how a region will have the appropriate facilities to host the proposed events (such as infrastructure, accommodation, waste management and access).
  • Stimulate domestic visitation – must demonstrate how events, or the event package, will draw visitors from outside their region and are not events targeting purely local community impacts.
  • Collaborate, not compete – funding must not be used to promote inter-regional competition eg. no poaching events or similar events at the same time which target the same market.

What events are not eligible for funding?

  • Events already supported through the Major Events Fund
  • Events currently supported by the Domestic Events Fund*
  • Destination marketing (although events promotion is in scope)
  • Substituting funding already committed (eg. council funded events)

*Note: If an event received funding from the Domestic Events Fund during 2020-2021, this doesn’t exclude the event for applying to the Regional Events Fund from year two (2021-2022 onwards).

Timeline and next steps

10 September 2020     : Announcement by Minister for Tourism, Hon Kelvin Davis

11 September 2020     : Regional Tourism Organisations agree on Lead Entity for their IMA region

By 30 September 2020 : MBIE provide Investment Plan template and guidance

By 30 September 2020 : Lead Entity establish Event Investment Panel and begin developing Investment Plan for IMA

15 October 2020          : RTNZ workshop with MBIE around Investment Plans

9 November 2020        : Lead Entity submits agreed Investment Plan to MBIE for approval

20 November 2020      : MBIE/RTNZ confirm Investment Plans meet criteria set

December 2020           : Funding Agreement between MBIE and Lead Entity

From 2021                  : Events commence

Find out more

Read the press release from the Minister of Tourism, Hon Kelvin Davis (10 Sep 2020):

The Regional Events Fund is part of the Government’s $400m tourism recovery package: