A $1 million boost for tourism in Rotorua has brought a sigh of relief for tourism providers but how it will be used will be crucial, the Chamber of Commerce says.
The Government announced yesterday it would give $20.2m to 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.
Rotorua Economic Development Limited, which trades as Destination Rotorua, has been awarded $1m - the maximum amount. It will use this for destination management and planning, domestic marketing and capability building and product development.
The application for funding had to demonstrate how the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's criteria for development would be met in destination management and planning; domestic marketing; and industry capability building and product development.
Destination Rotorua's Interim chief executive Andrew Wilson said the funding was particularly important for the region given the impact of the pandemic.
This included i-Site's income and industry contribution through the Rotorua Tourism Investment Partnership.
Wilson said the funding would also be used to support some of the Rotorua Inc. Whakahouhia te Whare Ohanga Build Back Better initiatives recommended by the Sustainable Visitor Economy Sector Group.
Rotorua Lakes Council will continue funding Destination Rotorua at the same level for the next financial year.
Rotorua-based co-owner and director of tourism and event company MDA Experiences, Tak Mutu, said there were two parts to tourism as a result of Covid-19; the now, and the future.
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He was "ecstatic" about the funding announcement, saying it would help the city remain relevant with locals now and tourists in the future.
"We need to keep being this amazing destination for tourists ... at some stage, we're going to find out when we're going to be open to the rest of the world.
"We can't forget to keep reminding the world that Rotorua is an amazing place to visit."
Mutu's businesses were operating at a 75 to 80 per cent loss but mountain biking was up 20 per cent on the same time last year.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the funding was a "great success" and, on face value, how Destination Rotorua planned to spend the money was sound.
He said it would promote jobs and stimulate the economy but $1m could be used up quickly.
"How it is used will be crucial."
If used smartly, it had the potential to aid economic recovery and create jobs in the city, he said.
Canopy Tours general manager Paul Button said it was "fantastic" news and said while $1m could go quickly, he had every bit of faith in the Destination Rotorua team to use it well.
He said the funding could create opportunities down the track as it encouraged Kiwis to explore their backyards.
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.
The investment would enable Regional Tourism Organisations to support the recovery and rebuilding of the tourism sector and encourage more people to explore the regions and discover their own backyard, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said.
The funding would allow the 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, he said.
Regional Tourism NZ chairman David Perks said the funds would act as "building blocks" and provide a much-needed stimulus to tourism businesses across the country.
Perks said it would support the investment made by local government in destination management, product development and domestic marketing.
"The investment plans developed by each region contain a high degree of inter-regional collaboration, resource sharing, and industry capability support."
This would develop a more resilient industry according to the different needs of communities, local government partners, and industry, he said.
Destination Rotorua projects in application
Destination Management & Planning
• Create a destination management strategy in consultation with Rotorua Lakes Council, Te Tatau o te Arawa, local business and central government.
• 'Deep dive' research into campaign perceptions and target customer insights of Rotorua
• Updating destination collateral and imagery
• Creating aspirational domestic marketing campaigns to encourage New Zealanders to visit Rotorua
• Increased collaboration with Explore Central North Island and Tourism NZ
• Support for business events and major events marketing activity.
Capability Building & Product Development
• Establish of a product development project team
• Customer service delivery and training
• Regenerative tourism programme in collaboration with Explore Central North Island partners, including tourism-focused sustainability workshops.