Thermal Explorer Highway funding approved

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 has announced an application for $3.75 million has been approved and the funding for event planning along the Thermal Explorer Highway will now be released.

“This is the first investment to be confirmed from the $50 million Regional Events Fund announced as part of the government’s $400 million Tourism Recovery package,” Stuart 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 stunning 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.

“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.

“Tourism NZ research shows around 28 percent of domestic travel is driven by tourists who want to see events, entertainment and exhibitions. The Thermal Explorer Highway alliance can now use the funds to invest in existing events, create new ones, or build the capabilities of event planners.

“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. The fund is designed to give domestic tourism a boost over the medium term, and regions expect 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. Announcements will follow early in the New Year to confirm the release of funding. The funding is based on each region’s share of international visitor spending prior to COVID19,” said Mr Nash.

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