Bay of Plenty tourism operators could benefit from a new $200m Government package announced by Tourism Minister Stuart Nash on Thursday.
The Government's new Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan is set to roll out between now and 2023.
The plan will invest in new programmes such as small business support, tourism infrastructure, the conservation estate, Māori development, economic and regional development and mental wellbeing support, Nash said.
"It is an opportunity for government, councils, iwi, businessmen and tourism communities to work together and re-set the industry on a more sustainable model for the future," he said.
While the majority of the funding was being diverted to tourism businesses based in the South Island, $76.5 million was available for allocation nationwide.
Of that figure $26 million would be distributed in the form of grants to regional tourism organisations.
Nash recognised "the impact of the loss of international visitors is felt beyond the tourism workforce and businesses," and components of the plan would "address longer-term challenges".
"That would be awesome," Waimarino Group director Blair Anderson told the Bay of Plenty Times.
Anderson said he'd only just heard of the plan but thought it came at a time of need for "people who have been working pretty hard for a long while.
"It hasn't been easy. There's been a lot of uncertainty," Anderson said.
"So I'm interested to see what this support would look like in practice."
Tāpoi Te Moananui ā Toi, Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive was present at the TRENZ Hui 2021 when Nash made the announcement.
"There was a very enthusiastic reaction from the 750 attendees to the announcements and its details," Dunne said.
"This funding will allow us to continue the work we have been doing as part of our Te Hā Tāpoi, The Love of Tourism strategy, which has regeneration through tourist experiences at its heart."
Tourism Bay of Plenty received $700,000 in 2020 as part of the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Plan, a sum which they then planned to put towards fast tracking exposure and development opportunities.
"It's great for towns where tourism is critical to the success of the economy," Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said of the plan.
"But it's a tough pill to swallow for tourism operators in larger cities, like in Tauranga."
Cowley said he understood Nash was talking about significant public funds so trade-offs had to be made.
The best thing Government could do Cowley said, was "work closely with the tourism sector so they can plan, prepare, and be ready for future travel bubbles and open borders as the world becomes vaccinated".
Mount Classic Tours owner Ian Holroyd said, "any assistance tourism can get is good".
However, Holroyd also thought the Government could do better.
"We don't need handouts anymore.
"We want a plan to get back into the business we've been working hard at for the past 20 years."
He said reopening the maritime border between Australia and New Zealand for the cruise industry would be a great help to Tauranga's businesses.
"Speaking personally, my business is dependent on the cruise industry.
"We've lost 95 per cent of our revenue."
Holroyd said starting the conversation about the cruise industry now would allow operators to prepare for the October 2021 season.
"There is definitely demand for it.
"There's no logical reason why they can't be talking about this."
In April Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins said in a statement: "At this time, cruise ships are explicitly excluded from participating in the quarantine-free travel arrangement between Australia and New Zealand. At this stage, there's no timeframe for when this may alter."
In a recent survey conducted by Tourism Industry Aotearoa, 65 per cent of respondents think the safe opening of borders is the most important thing the Government can do.
Ninety-five per cent said opening up to other countries was important, or very important to their business.