Fired-up tourism infrastructure fund appreciated
Farmers and other ratepayers in tourist hotspots will be pleased the Government has upped the ante in co-funding new infrastructure, Federated Farmers local government spokesman Katie Milne says.
“Earlier this year Federated Farmers described a $12 million regional tourism infrastructure fund to help councils cope with tens of thousands of freedom campers as ‘a damp tea towel on a bonfire’.
“It seems the Government has heard our message, and that of others, and called out the fire brigade,” Katie says.
Tourism Minister Paul Bennett today announced $60.5m of new money, and $41.5m of re-prioritised existing Tourism NZ budget, to be spent over the next four years on projects such as new carparks, toilets and freedom camping facilities. Approved projects must be co-funded by the applicants, which will be local councils and other community organisations.
“A $102 million fund is better recognition that for some rural towns and districts, often with small ratepayer bases, the tide of freedom campers and other tourists is overwhelming,” Katie says.
The first round of grants from the now-superseded fund have gone towards the kinds of facilities desperately needed up and down the country – for example, $452,335 for toilets and carparking at Ohau Waterfall Stream, Kaikoura; $405,000 for new toilet blocks at Tekapo; $166,667 towards construction of an effluent treatment and disposal at Hot Water Beach, Coromandel.
“As Ms Bennett noted, last year international tourism expenditure reached $14.5 billion, which is more than 20 per cent of New Zealand’s total exports of goods and services. It’s only right that the government invest money back into regions coping with this influx rather than leaving it as a cost for ratepayers to shoulder.”