The Government is signing off millions of dollars in "emergency cash injections" on top of wage subsidies to ensure the survival of the Bay of Plenty's top tourist drawcards.
Eighteen businesses across the region identified as "strategic tourism assets" are in line for $38.9m in grants and loans, pending contract completions, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has confirmed.
Agreements finalised so far include $500,000 grants for both
Whakarewarewa – The Living Māori Village and Skyline Rotorua and a $300,000 grant for Zorb Rotorua.
Nearby businesses with pending contracts include Mitai Māori Village, Polynesian Spa, Lakeland Queen, the National Kiwi Hatchery, Velocity Valley, Volcanic Air, Buried Village of Te Wairoa and Te Mānuka Tūtahi marae in Whakatāne.
Nationally, there are 130 places for businesses in the ministry's $290m Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme, as part of the Government's $400m tourism Covid-19 recovery package, announced in Budget 2020.
The businesses are being awarded a mixture of grants of up to $500,000, and loans.
The money is to provide "an emergency cash injection" and "to ensure their survival throughout the disruption caused by Covid-19", a ministry spokeswoman told NZME.
Eligible entities had to show that if they shut down "visitation to the region would be significantly diminished".
They also had to show they were recognised either nationally or internationally and had already exhausted other financial support from private and public avenues.
Nationally, 305 businesses applied for the programme before the deadline in June, of which 160 were ineligible and 18 were eligible but were not offered funding contracts.
The Treasury, Department of Conservation, Te Puni Kokiri, Ministry of Culture and Heritage, the Ministry for the Environment, Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Māori Tourism have been helping the Tourism Recovery Ministers Group assess applications.
Skyline Rotorua general manager Andrew Jensen said he was "very grateful" for the grant and "key areas" of the venture would have suffered without the Government's financial help.
"This work has wider economic benefits for the local Rotorua community and region and includes advancing plans for extending products available and hours we operate to continue to attract more domestic visitors."
Skyline Skyrides, across its Queenstown and Rotorua sites, had received $2.09m in wage subsidy support after having nearly 250 eligible staff across the country when lockdown began.
Whakarewarewa – The Living Māori Village heamana [chairman] James Warbrick said the money would help the venture fulfil a new business plan "until the borders open up one day and hopefully we can work towards a 'new normal'".
"At this stage, it is a work in progress, we have got to let our people know ... Our staff have got to buy in on it."
"It's good we have got it [the funding] and we are just working hard on how we best utilise it for the maximum [return]," he said.
The village was eligible for the wage subsidy for 44 staff when lockdown began and had been paid $310,000 through the scheme, as of September 2.
Earlier this year, the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme granted $20.2m to regional tourism organisations across New Zealand to encourage more people to visit their regions.
Destination Rotorua received $1m.
Chief executive Andrew Wilson was "delighted" with this and said it was "great to see more funding agreements being announced over the past few days to support individual Rotorua businesses" through the protection programme.
He said the organisation's $1m grant was "particularly important" because Covid-19 had reduced other funding sources, such as Rotorua iSite income and industry contributions from the Rotorua Tourism Investment Partnership.
In May, Rotorua tourism icon Te Puia New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute was given a $7.6 million cash injection through the Government's $900m Budget package to support Māori.
The funding was to ensure that carvers, weavers, waka exponents and arts and crafts champions were retained and the facility could gradually build back.
Rotorua tourism before Covid-19
• Last year, 23 per cent of employed people in Rotorua worked in tourism.
• Tourism made up more than 17 per cent of Rotorua's GDP, compared to 5.8 per cent nationally.
Rotorua tourism after Covid-19
• In the year to June 2020, domestic visitors spent $443 million in Rotorua, down 9.3 per cent on the year to June 2019.
• International visitors spent $273 million in Rotorua in the year to June 2020, down 25 per cent on the year to June 2019.
Covid-19 financial support for eligible tourism businesses
• Temporary wage subsidy of $585 per week for fulltime staff or $350 for part-time.
• Strategic tourism assets protection for eligible businesses.
• Small business cashflow (loan) scheme.