Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Govt open to new ways to fund tourist facilities

John Key announced a $12 million fund to help small communities cope with freedom campers in particular. Photo / NZME
John Key announced a $12 million fund to help small communities cope with freedom campers in particular. Photo / NZME

The Government is open to new ways of raising more money from foreign tourists to help pay for infrastructure as some centres struggle with the influx of visitors.

Prime Minister John Key today announced a $12 million fund for small communities to build toilets, signs and van parks to cope with freedom campers in particular.

But Key, who is Tourism Minister, said the industry was debating new ways of raising money from foreign visitors to spend on bigger projects throughout the country.

"We're not going to say no - we'll get advice from them. It could potentially quite a lot of money in which case it might be worth us considering if it was to giver them a big lift in their infrastructure."

Bed taxes had been discussed as an option for places like Queenstown where the local infrastructure struggles with the growing number of visitors.

"It is likely they'll (the industry) come to the government in the next six to 12 months with their own suggestions of what they might do," he said at the Trenz tourism event in Rotorua.

The Government had in a "rare move" allowed Stewart Island to impose a $5 visitor tax and differential charging regimes were in place in overseas.

"It's not a new concept but whether we want to actually do it and how it would apply - all of those things are a long way down the track."

The $12 million fund - to be spent over four years - would be administered by government and private sector representatives.

In the South Island in particular freedom campers without access to public toilets are causing problems in small towns.

Key announced an $8 million boost to target key growth markets such as India and the eastern seaboard of the United States.

He also announced:
• $2.5 million for Te Puia, for new facilities at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, including a new bone, stone and pounamu carving school, a ta moko (Maori tattoo) studio and a taonga gallery.
• Just over $1.2 million for Timber Trail Adventures Limited for the development of an 80-bed lodge located at the halfway point on the Timber Trail cycleway at Piropiro in the Waikato.
• $500,000 for Queenstown Bungy for an innovative world-first bungy launch system at their Nevis site.

In Wanaka on Sunday he also release details of further funding for cycle trails.

The government had spent $60 million the New Zealand Cycle Trail, which he said had already been extremely successful in helping attract high-value visitors, getting them to stay longer and encourage flows of visitors into the regions.

In January 2015, 125,000 people used the New Zealand Cycle Trail, compared to 97,000 in January 2014.

- NZ Herald

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