Government announces $25 million boost for tourism business on public conservation land

The Government has announced an extra $25 million in funding to assist tourism businesses that operate on public conservation land.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage made the announcement on Friday while marking the first day of the ski season at Cardrona and meeting with tourism leaders in Queenstown alongside Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.   

The Government will waive most Department of Conservation tourism-related concession fees from March 1, 2020 until June 30, 2021. 

Davis said it's the latest in a series of assistance packages to help the industry get through COVID-19.

"We know tourism businesses are doing it tough with the borders closed for international visitors. In addition to the billions invested through the wage subsidy and other business support, this latest funding will help to keep these operators afloat," he said.

Sage said the announcement will help hundreds of businesses.

"There are approximately 1000 tourism concessionaires who operate on public conservation land who won't have to worry about activity-based, management, or monitoring fees until mid-next year," she said.  

The funding announcement means vital conservation work which is usually paid for by the fees charged to tourism operators can continue through funding from the Government. 

However, community services fees, which pay for waste and water services in DOC National Parks will remain in place.

Adrian Januszkiewicz, director of Canyon Swing, Adventure Group and Fox Glacier Guiding agreed.

"There's been a surprising absence I guess in terms of feet on the ground, and so in terms of building trust and relationships with the industry I think it's really important that he's here and that he fronts and that he talks to people and understands what's going on," he said.

"Maybe there's a bit of disconnection somewhere, I know... that the Government is checking in what's happening here, but it definitely would be good to see their actual support - this is a crisis - we feel like we need the support," Ziptrek Ecotours executive director, Trent Yeo told RNZ.

The $25 million will come out of the government's Tourism Recovery Package of $400 million.