This year's budget will include a $178 million tourism infrastructure package that will fund projects like new carparks, toilets and freedom camping facilities.
The package will consist of a new $102m Tourism Infrastructure Fund, along with $76m in new funding for the Department of Conservation to upgrade its tourism infrastructure.
The Budget 2017 tourism infrastructure package is part of the government's Business Growth Agenda and the Regional Economic Development programme.
“Tourism is hugely important to New Zealand. It creates jobs and brings in billions of dollars to the economy. That's why it's important that we keep investing so we continue to attract high-value tourists and give them an amazing visitor experience.”
The Tourism Infrastructure Fund will provide $100m over the next four years in partnership with local councils and other community organisations for projects.
It is made up of $60.5m in new money from Budget 2017 and $41.5 million in funds which have been reprioritised from the Tourism Growth Partnership and the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund. Of that, $2m million over four years has been provided to manage the fund.
Paula says the fund is about helping communities respond to demand and addressing capacity constraints, plus facilitate future growth in some of New Zealand's newer tourism regions as well as main tourist hubs.
“Government is funding tourism in a number of different ways. That's why the Tourism Infrastructure Fund has been announced alongside a $76m funding increase for DOC to upgrade and develop tourist facilities on conservation land and to expand the great walks network.
“The Tourism Infrastructure Fund will provide infrastructure such as toilets and carparks, but we're also prepared to consider projects like visitor information centres, and feasibility studies for infrastructure projects on a case-by-case basis as part of the fund.”
In 2016 international tourism expenditure reached $14.5 billion, more than 20 per cent of New Zealand's total exports of goods and services. It's also a significant employer, generating around 188,000 jobs directly, and a further 144,000 indirectly, adds Paula.
NEW FUNDING FOR DOC
As part of the package, the government will also invest $76m on new and upgraded tourism infrastructure for the Department of Conservation.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the new funding will allow DOC to better manage the impact of visitor growth while also protecting New Zealand's biodiversity and threatened species.
“The DOC estate is our biggest and best-known tourism asset and this funding increase means DOC can upgrade and develop tourist facilities and expand the great walks network.
“This new investment will enhance the quality of experience at those sites most loved by kiwis and international visitors, while also shifting awareness to the paths less travelled.”
The Great Walk network of premier multi-day tracks that allow visitors to safely access and enjoy New Zealand's spectacular and diverse landscapes will be expanded with two new Great Walks.
Along with the Paparoa Great Walk, these new Great Walks will mark the first expansion of the Network in around 25 years, explains Maggie.
“DOC will run a contestable process to select the best locations and work with partners to co-fund these walks. We will also develop a network of Great Short Walks and Great Day Walks.
“Increasingly people enjoying New Zealand's parks and conservation areas want activities that can be done in a day or less. Great Day Walks and Great Short Walks will give people more choices.”
The new funding is made up of $44.6m operating funded over four years, $31.3m capital, and includes:
• $23m for improving visitor experiences throughout New Zealand.
• $11.4m for improvements to DOC's online services to the public and introduce more customer focused technology and a new booking service.
• $12.7m towards the expansion of the Great Walks network.
• $5.7m to develop Great Short Walks and Great Day Walks.
• $19.8m for upgraded tourist facilities.