Tourism funding boost for local government 'needs to be bigger'

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Additional tourism project funding announced by the Government yesterday is a step in the right direction, but more money would have been ideal, according to Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa CEO Chris Roberts says the funding boost is welcome, and well-designed, but there’s a question around whether $25.5m per year is enough.
Source: Breakfast

New tourism Minister Paula Bennett yesterday announced a total fund of $25.5m per year over four years to help local councils fund things like more toilets, car parks and freedom camping facilities - up from a fund of about $11m per year.

Councils will need to apply for the funding on a project-by-project basis, and cash-strapped councils with few ratepayers and many tourism opportunities will be shown flexibility in the proportion of funding their project receives.

Mr Roberts says $100m per year would have been ideal to push tourism forward, but also says "we've got to take what we've been given".

"We understand that there are competing budget priorities for the Government ... absolutely we would have liked a bit more money ... the important thing at this stage is that they've got the target right," he told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

"The design of the fund, what it's targeting is all right on the money ... the question that will come to be answered in time - are there enough dollars in the pot?"

The demand from councils will be instrumental in any adjustments which could be made to the funding model, Mr Roberts said.

"I think it's now up to local councils around the country to put forward their bids - put in their projects ... if the fund in the first year is heavily oversubscribed, I think the message will be fairly clear that the fund needs to be bigger," he said.

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