Discover Waitomo offered $4 million lifeline as part of $400 million Government tourism rescue package

Discover Waitomo has been announced as the first recipient of funds from the Government's $400 million Tourism Sector Recovery Plan.

The scenic attraction in Waikato will be provided up to $4 million to save it from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government's tourism rescue plan includes a programme to protect keystone tourism assets, with New Zealand regional tourism operators each recieving some of the $20.2 million set aside by the scheme.

"We are working closely with the tourism industry to help cushion the blow from COVID-19, support businesses and workers, and position the tourism sector for recovery," tourism minister Kelvin Davis said. 

"Discover Waitomo is a world-renowned iconic tourism attraction that generates significant economic, cultural and employment benefits for the region.

"Without this support, it may not have been possible to preserve this key asset, so it was important to act fast. This investment will help safeguard and enable Discover Waitomo to retain a highly skilled workforce with specific skills and experience."

"The restart, recovery and rebuilding of the sector will depend on capable and well-resourced regional organisations to lead and coordinate activities alongside the industry, stakeholders, Māori and communities."

The Government has also announced a new Tourism Futures Taskforce will be co-chaired by Mayor Steve Chadwick and Grant Webster from Tourism Holdings.

Applications for funding from the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme remain open until June 18.

The tourism ministry says in order to be eligible, a business or organisation must be nationally or internationally recognised, be considered a key attraction and draw a significant number of visitors to a particular region.