The Government's Provincial Growth Fund has now given out more than $100 million to Northland projects with the announcement today of $2m for two tourism initiatives in Whangārei.

Tourism Minister and Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis this morning announced that the PGF is investing over $2m in two tourism initiatives which he says will further enhance Whangārei as a tourist destination and support the region's economic growth.

The PGF will give $1.3m towards the completion of a feasibility study and business case for the development of the planned $200m Riverside Hotel and Entertainment Precinct.

An artist's impression of what the planned $200m hotel and conference centre could look like on Riverside Dr.
An artist's impression of what the planned $200m hotel and conference centre could look like on Riverside Dr.

Another of $750,000 will help build a full scale version of an operational rolling ball clock promoting Clapham's National Clock Museum at the Town Basin.

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"Tourism is set to continue to grow in Whangārei and it's crucial that we invest to improve the infrastructure and encourage initiatives that cater to tourists," Davis said.

"The projects announced today are supported by the local community and add to the mix of existing and planned attractions in Whangārei.

"The PGF will invest $1.3m towards the completion of a feasibility study and business case for the development of the Riverside Hotel and Entertainment Precinct.''

If the project goes ahead, it's estimated that it will create upwards of 100 jobs and inject $7.75m into the Whangārei economy each year, he said.

"Funding of $750,000 will help build a full scale version of an operational rolling ball clock promoting Clapham's National Clock Museum in Whangārei. A prototype built by local volunteers gained interest as a potential cultural and educational tourist attraction,'' he said.

"Our regions are a big tourism drawcard and we want them to thrive as much as our cities. Through smart investments, the PGF can help grow a more sustainable and high value tourism industry, while creating jobs and more opportunities."

Northland Development Corporation (NDC) is spearheading plans for the hotel for the project and is in talks with investors. The hotel and entertainment complex is expected to provide more than 200 jobs during construction and about 140-160 when opened.

There are also plans to ferry tourists from cruise ships that will berth at Northport from early 2021 to the precinct and other places frequented by visitors, such as the Hundertwasser Art Centre and Hihiaua peninsula.

NDC is yet to apply to the Whangārei District Council for a resource consent.

About Time ball clock sculpture is a prototype inspired by a ball clock at Clapham's Clock Museum and will be built near to the museum.

Today's announcements means that Northland has so far had $101.6m from the PGF with more funding announcements pending.