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Tourism levy needs to benefit West Coast region

The West Coast and Buller regions need more resourcing in another busy tourist season, National’s spokesperson for West Coast Issues Maureen Pugh says.

"I have received confirmation from Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis that no specific West Coast region tourism projects have received investment from the International Conservation and Tourism Levy. The fund has raised over $36 million to date.

"Since July 1, 2019, the majority of international visitors have paid an arrival levy of $35 which the Government said it would spend on tourism and conservation projects and ‘unique, natural heritage areas’.

"This money would have been well spent on the regional attractions of the West Coast and Buller, which fit the criteria perfectly.

"The West Coast region, which includes Karamea and hosts the Heaphy Track and several National Parks, is actually one of the busiest tourist areas New Zealand has to offer, so the Minister should be releasing some funds to invest here.

"Centres such as Reefton, Westport, Greymouth, Hokitika, Glacier Country and Haast are desperate for assistance to support local businesses, and strong visitor arrival numbers feeding this levy should result in investment coming back into the region.

"Severe weather events over the past year have hit some businesses harder than others so it is imperative that an investment is made into repairing our reputation as a reliable destination.

"Some assistance with staff accommodation and childcare would go a long way to supporting our businesses, and I urge local communities to contact the Ministry for Tourism to ensure we are not left out of the funding distribution."

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