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Tourism-based Major Regional Initiative funding

13 December 2005

West Coast applies for tourism-based Major Regional Initiative funding

The MRI objective is to build a long term, sustainable, competitive, world class tourism industry in the West Coast region.

The West Coast Development Trust is working closely with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Tourism West Coast, several local Councils, Tourism New Zealand, Ngai Tahu, Department of Conservation and other community based tourism groups to attract a $2 million major regional initiative (MRI) funding grant to the West Coast, and leverage this with between $3-4 million of local funding and in-kind contribution.

The MRI is part of the business plan implementation phase of the regional tourism strategy, which was developed after consultation with the tourism industry throughout the region, comprising a region-wide portfolio of tourism projects, ranging from facilities to product development, support of SMEs, workforce development, and strategic planning.

The overall objective is to increase the international and domestic competitiveness of the West Coast region as a visitor destination, hence incrementally increasing New Zealand’s international competitiveness and encouraging substitution of New Zealand outbound travel into increased domestic travel.

The desired outcomes are higher yield, improved profitability, more small business start-ups, investment attraction, improved destination management in the icon destinations, and accelerated growth in the Coast’s emerging destinations.

The West Coast tourism sector has experienced higher than national average growth, and the MRI is designed to ensure that future growth accelerates even further and translates into improved profitability for regional tourism businesses.

The MRI is expected to have an economic impact of up to $100 million and promote 620 new jobs, with many of the new businesses being located in the under-developed emerging destinations.

A portfolio of 20 staged geographically diverse tourism projects are the basis of the MRI.

The West Coast Development Trust will act as the lead agency and contracting party with NZTE, it will select West Coast groups and organisations who will manage the various projects, including Tourism West Coast, Oparara Valley Project Trust, Shantytown and Ngai Tahu.

The application is currently being evaluated by NZTE and the Trust should know the outcome of the application in the near future.

Approval of the MRI application will signal the start of an intensive 3 year period of consultation, research and new product development to strengthen the West Coast tourism sector.

The 20 projects selected were short-listed using the combined inputs of Tourism West Coast, The West Coast Development Trust, external tourism consultants and consultation with NZTE, Tourism New Zealand, Department of Conservation and several local authorities.

ENDS

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