Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Boost for tiny tourist meccas

PM indicates small centres with many visitors are in line for help.
Prime Minister John Key addressing delegates at TRENZ last year. Photo / Stephen Parker
Prime Minister John Key addressing delegates at TRENZ last year. Photo / Stephen Parker

Prime Minister John Key is set to announce tomorrow a boost to funding of tourism infrastructure. Key, who is also Tourism Minister, has indicated small communities with low numbers of ratepayers but a high number of tourists are in particular in line for help from central Government.

He will make the announcement at the Trenz conference in Rotorua, where tourism leaders and operators have during the past two days noted the pressure on toilets, roads, car parks and other facilities.

Towns such as Franz Josef have just a few hundred permanent residents who face funding facilities used by thousands of tourists.

The Tourism Industry Association says help for small communities is welcome but the challenge goes beyond providing a few toilets and parking areas.

"It's also about improving our roading, walking and cycling tracks, good signage and information, recycling and waste disposal facilities, and adequate water and sewerage systems that meet the needs of locals plus visitors," said TIA chief executive Chris Roberts.

The Government had invested in marketing New Zealand as a visitor destination through Tourism NZ, and was now seeing an excellent return on that investment. "Now it needs to support that investment with a fund to ensure visitors have a great experience while they are here," he said.

"A Tourism Infrastructure Fund would allow the most deserving and urgent investments to happen in time to match the growth in tourism."

The announcement will come as new figures show the tourism boom is set to continue.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) 2016-2022 forecasts show the tourism sector will continue to grow, and is well positioned to capture opportunities from several different markets.

Visitor arrivals are expected to grow 5.4 per cent a year, reaching 4.5 million visitors in 2022 from 3.1 million in 2015 and total international spend is expected to reach $16 billion in 2022, up 65.5 per cent from 2015.

Most growth is expected to come from holidaymakers and those visiting friends and relatives.

Australia is NZ's largest visitor market, sending more than 1.3 million visitors last year. The forecasts show this market looks set to grow by 25 per cent by 2022.

Another key market is China, which is forecast to become New Zealand's largest market in terms of spending by next year.

- NZ Herald

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