The Minister of Tourism Stuart Nash is to reopen a government fund that supports councils to build infrastructure for visitors, and the Queenstown Lakes District is one of the areas to be targeted.
There will be a specific focus on regions hardest hit by the loss of overseas tourists, said Nash. Along with Queenstown Lakes, Kaikōura, MacKenzie - Aoraki Mt Cook, Fiordland and South Westland districts would be prioritised.
The fund is likely to be about $13 million.
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.
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 Tourism Infrastructure Fund round.
‘‘But we’ll be applying for utilisation of the funds for some good works,” he said.
Round five of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund will open for applications next month, Nash said. Funds were last allocated in November 2019.
“I have updated the criteria for projects to be prioritised by the fund. 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,” he said.
“All councils will still be eligible to apply if they lack adequate revenue sources to cater for visitors, for example if they have a small ratepayer base.” Community groups with council backing can also apply.”
All applicants will be asked to demonstrate the need for support with visitor infrastructure.
“The projects will provide much-needed local employment as tourism towns work to diversify their economies. The new infrastructure will also ensure the quality of the visitor experience is improved for when tourists return in greater numbers,” said Nash.
“Round 5 funding will ensure government investment in visitor projects can continue while we work to open quarantine-free travel with Australia, and other international connections when it is safe to do so,” Nash said.
Read edition 1021 of the Wānaka Sun here.