Tourism operators in Tauranga are sceptical about what impact a $700,000 funding boost will have on the industry.
The Government announced yesterday funding of $20.2m across
the country's 31 Regional Tourism Organisations from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme.
Of this, $2.4m will be pumped into the Bay of Plenty and split between Tourism Bay of Plenty, Destination Great Lake Taupō and Rotorua Economic Development Limited.
The investment would enable RTOs to support the recovery and rebuilding of the tourism sector and encourage more people to explore our regions and discover their own backyard, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said.
The funding would allow regional tourism organisations to support local communities and tourism operators, stimulate regional demand, leverage Tourism New Zealand's national marketing campaign and increase the industry's capability, Davis said.
Tourism Bay of Plenty will use the funding to increase the development and marketing of the tourism offerings in the coastal Bay of Plenty.
Waimarino Adventure Park owner Blair Anderson said Kiwis were "lethargic when it came to the regions" with Tauranga being a summer-time spot.
He said he did not think the funding would "change a heck of a lot" and said Tauranga was a difficult place to promote as a tourism destination.
He said his bookings had decreased drastically since Covid-19 and were now at 50 per cent of what they usually were.
Anderson said by the time the borders re-opened, he suspected the industry would be 15 years behind where it was pre-Covid, but hoped he would be proven wrong about the lack of optimism towards the funding.
Mount Classic Tours owner Ian Holroyd said there would be no cash benefit to their business.
He said the Government was "throwing money at various things" and said $20m for the entire tourism industry "doesn't cut the mustard".
Holroyd said his business was currently running at two per cent of where it would usually operate and the money going to Tourism Bay of Plenty meant tourism operators like himself would not see any money.
"[Tourism BOP] can use that $700,000 to promote the Bay of Plenty and in so, hopefully, bring customers to various businesses. But specifically for us, it won't make a difference."
He said it would benefit businesses which were activities where visitors could spend time or money such as hotels, cafes, kayaking.
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said she was delighted the
region's vision and commitment to ensuring a regenerative tourism industry, post-Covid-19 and into the future, had the backing of central government.
"The team are thrilled by this news as it validates our strategic plan and the different approach that we were already taking to destination management pre-Covid-19."
Tourism Bay of Plenty officially launched its destination management plan, Te Hā Tāpoi | The Love of Tourism, just before lockdown following years of detailed planning and public consultation.
"With this funding, we can hit the ground running and amplify what we can offer the coastal Bay of Plenty's tourism industry.
"The additional $700,000 is going to fast-track our exposure and development opportunities."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the $2.4m across the region was an opportunity for joint marketing to encourage those visiting the coast to pop over to the neighbouring geothermal attractions.
Cowley said the regional tourism organisations had an "excellent" knowledge of the different types of Kiwi tourists and hoped they could create promotions for different tourists to explore the region.
"The goal is to keep them in the wider region for longer, especially as the region is located within four hours drive of half of NZ's population."
He said the funding needed to help tourism operators in the immediate future, while borders remain closed to international tourists.
There is another fund for specific tourism operators which was administered through local Chambers of Commerce, Regional Business Partners network.
Cowley encouraged tourism operators facing difficulties to contact their local chamber to get access to Government-funded expertise.
"The expertise will help the business to either adapt their business offering to the domestic market or help them hibernate for a period."
Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell said he was "absolutely thrilled" by the investment and it would allow Tourism Bay of Plenty to keep campaigning for local tourism.
"It's absolutely fantastic and I commend the Government ... This is going to be great to ensure we keep the focus on buying local."
Powell said Tourism Bay of Plenty had received the maximum it had applied for as Tauranga wasn't as badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as other areas.
He was happy the Government had recognised the importance of tourism on a local level.
"This emphasis on travelling locally and falling back in love with your local region is very important."