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'Money well spent' — Tourism Minister says Govt's $136m America's Cup splurge paid off despite pandemic

The Government's already backing the next America's Cup, signalling $5 million to Team New Zealand's defence of the Auld Mug.

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The Government invested over $136 million into the event, with Auckland Council spending another $113 million on infrastructure. Source: Breakfast

The Government splashed cash on this year's campaign, investing over $136 million, which Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash this morning said was "money well spent". Auckland Council also spent $113 million on infrastructure.

More than 26,000 international visitors were expected to pump $1 billion into the economy when the funds were committed four years ago, but due to Covid-19 that number was dramatically reduced.

However, Nash, who also serves as Tourism Minister, told Breakfast this morning that the nation did get bang for its buck.

"Keeping in mind, $100 million of that went into legacy infrastructure in Auckland and now you go down to the Auckland waterfront, down to the viaduct there — I think we have one of the best cities in the world so that was absolutely money well spent," he said.

"In terms of the $40 million to host the event, well obviously Covid did put a spanner in the works. I mean, we haven't got the influx of international tourists, but what is really difficult to quantify is there would have been a whole lot of people sitting in lockdown in their Covid winter watching New Zealanders out on the Hauraki Gulf having a fantastic time and saying, 'You know what, when the borders open that's where I want to be.'

"It's hard to quantify that but I think it's very real."

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The Auckland Mayor says the city has backed the team and provided it with infrastructure. Source: Breakfast

So, will New Zealand get another chance to host the competition after yesterday's 7-3 win against Italy's Luna Rossa?

Nash said the Government has put in about $5 million to keep the New Zealand team together before negotiations around what America's Cup 37 will look like.

"The $5 million is depended on the race being held in New Zealand. I mean, why would we spend taxpayers' money to have the race held off shore?

"Also, we just demand a little bit of transparency — how's this money going to be spent? That's all."

Before any decision is made, Cabinet has to meet and come up with a negotiation strategy for Emirates Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Nash said.

"No decisions have been made yet, but I love the cup. I think it is a fantastic showpiece of everything that is great about New Zealand — our sportsmanship, the men and women on the boat did a fantastic job, our engineers, our designers, our team spirit, highlighting one of, I think, the best cities in the world to visit.

"Those negotiations will start. It is not at any cost, hence the reason why it is a negotiation, but in the agreement it is three months good faith bargaining on this."

Meanwhile, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is very keen to host the event again.

"We've given you the support, we've provided you with the infrastructure, please reciprocate," he said in a message to the team during a separate appearance on Breakfast.

He said he was confident people would want to visit in the future after watching international coverage of the competition.