An iconic tourism attraction that links communities across Waikato, Rotorua, Lake Taupō and Ruapehu has won government support to develop events for visitors.
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash announced today an application for $3.75 million had been approved.
The funding for event planning along the Thermal Explorer Highway will now be released.
"This is the first investment to be confirmed from the $50m Regional Events Fund announced as part of the Government's $400m Tourism Recovery package," Nash said.
"I congratulate the local Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) for being first out of the blocks to submit an investment plan. The RTOs have collaborated across the districts and are now the first to have funding released to spend according to local priorities.
The route has visitor attractions such as glow worm caves, geysers, museums and cultural attractions, surf breaks, bike trails, jet boat rides, gardens and zoos.
"But it also connects tourists to seasonal events throughout the year," Nash said.
"The funding confirmed today will help develop events through planning and promotion. Events will reflect common themes across the districts, including water-related sports and action events; music, cultural and heritage events; and food and beverage events.
"These events will help to accelerate the economic recovery in these regions and support local jobs and businesses."
The Regional Events Fund was set up to help the tourism sector adjust to the loss of international tourists due to the impact of Covid.
Nash said the fund was designed to give domestic tourism a boost over the medium term, and regions expected to use it for variety of exciting events from autumn next year.
"Regions will decide how to spend the funds themselves and will work collaboratively to encourage travel to a wide range of sport, arts and cultural events, without competing against neighbouring regions.
"The Thermal Explorer alliance was the first to submit its investment plan. Other proposals from Northland to Southland are going through final stages of approval."
The funding is based on each region's share of international visitor spending prior to Covid-19.