Hard-hit South Island tourist regions have scooped up the bulk of government spending in a rescue package, with the allocation yet to be determined to what was a key international gateway; Auckland.
Of 12 key points in a $200 million Tourism Communities Plan, half are focused on the most vulnerable South Island regions: Fiordland, South Westland, Queenstown Lakes, Mackenzie District and Kaikōura.
Auckland Unlimited will share a $26m fund for regional tourism organisations (RTOs) to promote the city, which has suffered a plunge in the number of international visitors in the past 13 months with borders closed.
Tourism electronic card transaction data from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment shows how badly Auckland and Wellington have been hit, with domestic spending by domestic visitors also falling.
At the annual level, Auckland and Wellington were the only regions where domestic card transaction spend fell in the year-ended March 2021, compared with the previous year. These regions were down 13 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. The West Coast and Tasman saw the largest increases in domestic spend in the year-ended March 2021, up 28 per cent and 27 per cent respectively.
Auckland Unlimited supports the approach by Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.
Chief executive Nick Hill said it was not known what would be allocated from the $26m RTO boost but Auckland has benefitted from a range of government funding recently, including the Regional Events Fund, the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme (Stapp), the Tourism Transitions Fund and the Regional Business Partner programme.
"So the latest boost should not be viewed in isolation," he said.
"One of Auckland Unlimited's key responsibilities is to support Auckland businesses and to promote our region as a top destination to visit, do business and invest in."
The announcement by Nash at the Trenz hui in Christchurch would allow his organisation the chance to do more of these activities that put Auckland top of mind.
Last year, Auckland received $17m of the $50m Regional Events Fund to support the attraction and delivery of major and business events. In addition, Auckland also received $1m through Stapp to support the delivery of targeted activities as identified in the Destination Auckland Recovery Plan.
Auckland Unlimited, as ATEED then, also managed approximately $20m through the Regional Business Partner programme and the Tourism Transitions Fund to support Auckland business, including tourism business.
Nash today has announced new funding for the Queenstown Trails Project, and will also formally open the Lake Dunstan Trail at Bannockburn near Cromwell.
Cycle tourism is booming, even without international visitors in Central Otago, with some operators reporting their best summer ever.
Nash said cycle tourism and associated activity like construction and maintenance of the trails, accommodation, cafes, retail and transport services has breathed new life into jobs, businesses and the economic recovery in our visitor destinations.
The Government has approved new funding of $6.745m for the Queenstown Trails Realignment Project, from Ngā Haerenga, the NZ Cycle Trails Fund. The Queenstown Trail is one of the most popular Great Rides and a major contributor to the local economy.
It is currently a hub and spoke network of more than 120km of recreational, connector and commuter tracks, linking Queenstown, Arrowtown, Gibbston, Lake Hayes Estate and Jacks Point.
"The new project will improve the trail by realigning it, turning it into a more clearly defined world-class, multi-day cycle route that showcases the history, culture, landscapes and vineyards in the Wakatipu Basin."
The improved trail is expected to attract an additional 65,100 recreational users by 2033 and the project itself will involve about 28 full-time jobs each year over the five-year build.
Later today, Nash also officially opens the 52km Lake Dunstan Trail, which connects Cromwell to Clyde, the start and end point of the world-renowned Central Otago Rail Trail.
The new Lake Dunstan trail skirts the shore of the lake created by the Clyde Dam and traverses some of the most breathtaking features of the Cromwell Gorge. Highlights include suspended boardwalks hanging off rock faces just metres above the lake.
"It will be an awesome cycling experience in a spectacular setting, and another drawcard to attract people to the district and connect with the Great Rides in the region," Nash said.
Nash said the wider communities of the Wakatipu and Cromwell Basins have given untold hours of volunteer labour and significant financial contributions, and have been a driving force behind the projects.
The Lake Dunstan Trail is the first of five projects that will eventually link the four Great Rides in Central Otago, and connect Queenstown, Arrowtown, Wanaka, Cromwell, Clyde and Alexandra. It will create a 550km network of Great Ride cycle trails, to be known as the Central Otago Queenstown Trails Network.