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Tourism fund to prioritise hard-hit regions

The Minister of Tourism is to re-open a government fund that supports councils to build infrastructure for visitors, with a specific focus on regions hardest hit by the loss of overseas tourists.

"Round Five of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund will open for applications next month," said Stuart Nash. It last allocated funds in November 2019.

"I have updated the criteria for projects to be prioritised by the fund. It will now better reflect the reality that jobs and businesses in some regions, particularly the South Island, are harder hit by the loss of international tourists than other regions.

"All councils will still be eligible to apply if they lack adequate revenue sources to cater for visitors, for example if they have a small ratepayer base. Community groups with council backing can also apply.

"I have already identified that five regions face greater uncertainty given their reliance on overseas visitors. For this reason, applications from Kaikōura, MacKenzie РAoraki Mt Cook, Queenstown Lakes, Fiordland and South Westland districts will be prioritised.

"Other regions are still welcome to apply. All applicants will be asked to demonstrate the need for support with visitor infrastructure.

"The projects will provide much-needed local employment as tourism towns work to diversify their economies. The new infrastructure will also ensure the quality of the visitor experience is improved for when tourists return in greater numbers.

"The Tourism Infrastructure Fund was established in 2017.

"It has helped councils build and maintain important assets like public toilets and showers, carparks and footpaths, waste disposal and water treatment facilities, freedom camping sites, picnic shelters, jetties and boat ramps, bike stands and mountain bike hubs.

"Round 5 funding will ensure government investment in visitor projects can continue while we work to open quarantine-free travel with Australia, and other international connections when it is safe to do so.

"The final size of the funding pool is still to be determined but is expected to be in the vicinity of $13 million," Nash says.

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