Government details where 'significant' extra funding for regional tourism operators is going as borders remain closed

The money can be used for things such as marketing or attraction infrastructure.
The money can be used for things such as marketing or attraction infrastructure. Photo credit: Getty Images

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has announced the details of a new round of funding for regional tourism organisations in New Zealand as borders remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nash confirmed funding has been allocated to 31 Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) from the $26 million earmarked in the Tourism Communities Plan in May.

"Domestic tourism is experiencing a boom as Kiwis take the opportunity to 'do something new' and see more of their own backyard," Nash said. 

"Tourism agencies in our regions work hard behind the scenes to ensure they can deliver on their promise to visitors. We all want tourism to be sustainable, well-managed, and for everyone with a stake in the visitor economy to collaborate. 

"The Government is backing these regional efforts with a new round of funding for RTOs for the coming year."

Largest funding allocations:

  • Auckland Unlimited Ltd: $1,500,000
  • Hamilton & Waikato Tourism: $1,000,000
  • Western Bay of Plenty Tourism and Visitors Trust (Tāpoi Te Moananui ā Toi | Tourism Bay of Plenty): $1,000,000
  • Hawke's Bay Tourism: $1,000,000
  • Destination Lake Taupo Trust (Destination Great Lake Taupo): $1,000,000
  • Rotorua Economic Development Ltd: $1,500,000
  • Venture Taranaki Trust: $1,000,000
  • Central Economic Development Agency Ltd: $1,000,000
  • Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WellingtonNZ): $1,500,000
  • Nelson Regional Development Agency: $1,000,000
  • ChristchurchNZ Ltd: $1,500,000
  • Dunedin City Council: $1,000,000
  • Lake Wanaka Tourism Inc: $1,000,000
  • Central Otago District Council: $1,000,000
  • Destination Queenstown Inc: $1,500,000
  • Southland Regional Development Agency (Great South): $1,000,000


Nash said the further investment will provide further help for places 'off the beaten track' impacted by the absence of international visitors like Waitomo in the North Island and the South Island areas of Fiordland, Kaikoura, Mackenzie District, Queenstown Lakes and south Westland. 

"RTOs work alongside industry reps, community groups, iwi, councils and others on destination management plans for how they propose to work together. Their proposals have now been signed off and funding can be allocated," he said.

The 31 RTOs have secured government investment ranging from $400,000 to $1.5 million in grants from the Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Reset Plan announced in May.

Hawke's Bay Tourism Chief Executive Hamish Saxton says their additional funding of $1 million is a massive shot in the arm for the local tourism industry.

"With borders still closed, this second round of funding is absolutely vital as we continue to support, reset, and recover our region's vibrant visitor economy," said Saxton.

"A significant portion of the funds will be invested into marketing campaigns to attract visitors to Hawke's Bay. These campaigns will target growth from proven markets to the region, such as Wellington and Auckland, and will support the additional capacity put on by Air New Zealand and Origin Air.

"The funding will also be used for an extension of the food and wine project, as well as a specialised focus on business events."

Nash described the overall investment as "significant".

"It allows the RTOs to enhance destination management plans, build industry skills and capability, develop new products and ideas to attract visitors, promote sustainable tourism, and roll out marketing," he said.

"For example the Hamilton and Waikato RTO will focus on ways to foster regenerative tourism. It will build region-wide capability and develop 'good' guides showcasing Waikato visitor experiences that embrace regenerative tourism and add value to communities."

Nash said the Destination Coromandel RTO has worked alongside iwi to focus on the 400km coastline. Their plan involves a celebration of the provenance of their kaimoana, sourced by sustainable fishing methods. 

WellingtonNZ and Nelson Regional Development Agency are working with local tourism businesses to support them to become more sustainable, or offer new visitor products and experiences that have a low carbon footprint. 

"Whether the RTOs are in smaller population centres like Clutha or Hurunui, or large urban areas like Auckland or Rotorua, they are also working to strengthen the foundations of their visitor economies for when international visitors return," Nash said.