The first investment of a $50 million Regional Events Fund, to help stimulate a New Zealand tourism and events sector which has been hit hard by the economical impacts of Covid-19, has been approved for the four regions of the Thermal Explorer Highway collective.
The four regions include the Waikato, Rotorua, Taupō and Ruapehu which has been approved by Tourism Minister Stuart Nash to receive $3.75 million for regional events.
The local Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) from Waikato, Rotorua, Taupō and Ruapehu, alongside their council partners, have worked together on developing a collaborative regional events investment plan for the next two to three years to drive additional domestic visitation into their regions.
The fund is intended to support the tourism and events sector, while replacing some of the spend from international tourists as a result of Covid-19.
Hamilton & Waikato Tourism chief executive Jason Dawson says that hosting events are crucial to lead the economic and social recovery of the Waikato region.
"Tourism New Zealand research indicates that up to one-third of domestic travel is primarily driven by people looking to participate in events. We see the collaboration between Waikato, Rotorua, Taupō and Ruapehu will lead to a strong and compelling event proposition for our four regions, who also partnered together for the Domestic Events Fund," Dawson said.
"Our regions have a history of working together in the international long-haul market under the Explore Central North Island marketing alliance which also includes Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti Gisborne and Hawke's Bay, so partnering in the regional events space was a natural fit too."
The bulk of the $3.75 million fund will be used to create a contestable fund with successful events being supported over a three-year period. The focus will be on the development of iconic or anchor events, with a mix of new and expansion of existing events.
Another portion of the funding will be used to run capability building workshops and training for event organisers and suppliers, plus develop or update existing regional event strategies; with the remainder to cover administration, legal and event measurement.
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash congratulated the Thermal Explorer Regional Events Fund collective 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," Nash said.
"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."
Further information on the contestable fund, event criteria and application process will be made available soon.