The Government’s flagship New Zealand Cycle Trail project is at risk is proposed changes to local government law go ahead, warns the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand.
The association says cycle trails around the country rely on funding and support from local councils – for example, the Motu Trails is a partnership between the New Zealand Cycle Trail project in Opotiki.
TIA chief executive Martin Snedden says the tourism industry is concerned the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill could restrict councils investing in this type of infrastructure if it is passed in its present form.
He says Council-backed events and festivals, such as the Ellerslie International Flower Show, the IRB Sevens, Taupo’s Ironman NZ, Warbirds over Wanaka and Pasifika, could also be at risk.
The TIA is calling for local government to continue to be allowed to invest in the visitor industry, which creates jobs and income in communities around the country. Support from visitors makes possible a range of events and festivals that residents also enjoy, enhancing that community’s vibrancy and well-being.
“Councils are arguably the visitor industry’s most important partner, investing in and supporting infrastructure such as museums and stadia, events and festivals, and the agencies that promote and sell tourism products, such as Regional Tourism Organisations, i-SITE Visitor Centres or economic development agencies.
“TIA believes councils have a vital role to play in regional economic development but this bill does not appear to make allowance for this type of activity. The Bill must be amended to reconfirm and cement local government’s role in regional economic development.”
Martin says opportunities exist to make efficiencies in current local government investment in the visitor industry, he says.
The TIA is proposing a taskforce comprising representatives from local government, central government and the private sector be set up immediately to find a national solution to investment challenges for the tourism sector.