The Government has unveiled the first projects to receive funding from the country's new international visitor levy.
Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced an initial investment plan of $18 million for the first year this afternoon.
The projects include funding a recovery plan for the critically endangered kākāpō, building a skilled tourism workforce, preventing wildlife smuggling and finding a long term approach to managing Westland as a destination.
Mr Davis said the funding will help to ensure tourism benefits and invests back into communities, the environment and visitors.
"The four tourism projects being funded focus on important destination management planning, innovative ways of managing our iconic destinations, and building a skilled, productive and rewarding tourism workforce that meets the industry's needs," Mr Davis said.
Ms Sage said tourism could champion and protect the natural environment which it relies upon.
"There is a strong desire from the Government, industry and the public for tourism to be a part of the solution for the substantial conservation challenges we face; especially the impact of invasive predators, and habitat loss and degradation," Ms Sage said.
"The IVL is a clear and significant step towards achieving this, and complements the conservation efforts many tourism businesses already make."
About $42m is expected to be invested in these projects over five years.
The long term investment plan is expected to be released in October.
The 10 projects to receive funding are:
- $3m to develop, consult on, and test options for the future management of Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.
- $5.2m to improve awareness and perception of tourism and careers in the industry while encouraging people into the workforce.
- $3.9m to advance the planning of a resilient long-term approach to destination management in Westland.
- $0.3 to begin planning Arthur's Pass to ensure it provides a world class visitor experience.
- $1.5m to develop a long-term sustainable management approach for kākāpō, and establish three new habitat sites.
- $0.8m to prepare to eradication pests from Maukahuka - Auckland Island.
- $0.5m to test ways to manage pests and restore land at Te Manahuna Aoraki.
- $1.2m to make Ruapekapeka Pa a drawcard for visitors, functioning as a hub connecting other Land Wars sites in the region.
- $0.6m to fund a trial to improve visitor safety at Tongariro National Park
- $1.7m to prevent wildlife smuggling, trade and the importation of banned items.