A new multimillion-dollar tourism venture in Rotorua will create more than 45 jobs and hopes to capitalise on the improving Asian and domestic tourism markets.
Yesterday, Rotorua MP and Associate Tourism Minister Todd McClay helped open stage one of the New Zealand Heritage Farm project with Rotorua tourism operator Stanley Park.
Plans for the new venture - in the old Caterpillar Experience site next to Barkers Park on Fairy Springs Rd - include a 300-seat restaurant, a natural New Zealand product retail operation, hole in one golf, blueberry orchard and a small farm.
Stage one of the $3.1 million attraction, the retail side of the operation, should be open by November this year, while the entire project should be finished by June 2015.
Project manager Tim Kim said local building contractors CH Builders would manage the rebuild using Rotorua-based sub-contractors employing up to 12 people.
Once complete, Mr Kim said about 35 jobs would be available.
"This is a good opportunity, not just for our business, but also for the whole of Rotorua.
"It is very good to work within the local community and this is why we have employed CH Builders and local sub-contractors."
Mr Kim said the restaurant would include a buffet offering along with a traditional Kiwi barbecue within a New Zealand farm atmosphere.
"We want to be in harmony with nature and in our business in Rotorua," he said.
He said he would also like to host weddings at the venue.
Mr Park, who has lived in Rotorua for 15 years, said he would work in conjunction with Mamaku Blue Winery to bring a small blueberry orchard to the farm and his retail offering would include New Zealand wine, cheese and honey products.
Mr McClay said 2.7 million international visitors came to Rotorua in the year to May 2014, which was a 6 per cent increase compared to the same time last year.
"This a good example of the growth Rotorua is experiencing with more local jobs being created for local people," Mr McClay said.
"Tourism is worth half a billion dollars to the local economy each year with visitors being directly responsible for the creation of local jobs.
"The New Zealand Heritage Farm will provide for a traditional Kiwi experience and give people yet another reason to come to Rotorua."