Discounts and vouchers: Government reveals $37.5 million package aimed at reviving Auckland's economy over summer

The Government has announced a $37.5 million funding package aimed at reviving Auckland's economy and encouraging social and cultural events over summer. 

The package is a joint project between the Government, Auckland Council and Auckland Unlimited. Along with immediate funding for food banks, there's also 100,000 vouchers and discounts to council facilities up for grabs, a fund for small-scale events and extra marketing to encourage people to visit Tāmaki Makaurau. 

"Summer and more freedoms are on the horizon but we know that alert level restrictions have been tough on families and on the businesses that rely on visitors," Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni said in a statement. 

"Families need a break, businesses need new customers, and those in the most hardship also need help with the basics like food. This package will help to spark the city's arts and culture life again, reactivate economic activity and enhance people's wellbeing over summer."

Sepuloni said the funding is aimed at encouraging people to visit attractions within the city, which has spent more than 100 days in lockdown. 

"There will be 100,000 vouchers available for families and individuals as well as discounts or free access to Auckland Council facilities to help get Aucklanders out and experience the city while providing much-needed foot traffic in the CBD."

Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said the fund will help businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 restrictions. 

"We encourage Aucklanders to rediscover the best of local businesses and visitor attractions. This support will reach a wide range of communities and neighbourhoods, through activities like Christmas markets, New Year cultural performances, and council-run sports and leisure facilities.

"About $1.8 billion in wage subsidies have already been paid to workers in Auckland, and a further $1 billion to businesses for fixed costs under the Resurgence Support Payment. A new transition payment for Auckland, Waikato and Northland will also pay up to $490 million to regional businesses.

"This support package takes the next step by revitalising households, businesses and community groups to get out and enjoy the best that Tāmaki Makaurau has to offer through a targeted boost to the regional economy."

The Reactivating Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland package in detail:

  • Explore Tāmaki Makaurau this summer is a $12 million voucher and discount programme to encourage families and individuals to visit commercial attractions and council-owned facilities over summer. Any individual or family with an Auckland post code will be eligible.

  • Auckland residents can register interest for a voucher from 15 December.

  • Auckland Unlimited will allocate the vouchers through an online platform from mid-January, and will ensure they are distributed fairly across households in the region. They will be redeemable to the end of April 2022. Attractions and activities who want to be part of the scheme will have to opt-in.

  • The ‘Explore Tāmaki Makaurau this summer’ voucher and discount schemes are expected to reach at least 300,000 people. There are 100,000 vouchers available for families and for individuals, reaching approximately 250,000 people. 

  • Council attractions like the zoo, swimming pools, museums and galleries, may be part of the scheme. Commercial operators will have to opt in and could include a range of activities from outdoor adventure to tech exploration spaces.

  • The Local Activation Programme and discount scheme should reach at least 50,000 people and provide benefits for businesses by encouraging people back to local attractions and events.

  • Local Activation Programme is a $10 million contestable fund for summer events that are free to the public, such as those organised by business associations, community groups, and cultural organisations in town centres. They must require vaccination certificates and follow relevant public health restrictions.

  • Funding will apply to events and activities between 15 December 2021 and 3 April 2022. Applications for funding will open shortly with funding available from 15 December 2021.

  • $3.5 million for a promotional and marketing campaign by Auckland Unlimited to encourage visitors to experience and rediscover local destinations and attractions, and to promote the vouchers and activation programme to residents.

  • $12 million for food banks and community food organisations. It is estimated this could translate to roughly 84,000 food parcels and will be run by the Ministry of Social Development through community providers.