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Visitors Need To Contribute More

Visitors Need To Contribute More

Ruapehu District Council (RDC) is concerned that the reality of the financial issues facing Ruapehu tourism have not been accepted or understood by some operators.

RDC Mayor, Don Cameron, said that although the proposals around tourism in the Draft Exceptions Annual Plan (EAP) 2014/15 are merely preliminary suggestions at this stage they have been tabled in all seriousness.

“Ruapehu’s visitor industry has some very significant financial issues that need addressing,” he said.

“Council is concerned that some of the remarks and feedback we have received over the last few weeks in response to the draft proposals indicate that the reality and seriousness of these issues have not been accepted or fully understood by some operators.”

“In some ways Ruapehu tourism is a victim of its own success with over a million visitors and growing now coming through the district every year.”

“Changes in the type of visitors coming to Ruapehu along with greater numbers now coming in summer months is requiring Council to provide different types of infrastructure funded from a very small ratepayer base.”

“Added to these new visitor demands are other central government changes and requirements that are coming our way such as transport and road funding changes, fresh water requirements, and changes to the RMA.”

“This all adds up to huge financial challenges.”

Mayor Cameron noted that the impact of tourism on changing infrastructure demand in districts like Ruapehu has previously been recognised by the government.

“In 2005 the Tourism Demand Subsidy Scheme operated through the Ministry of Tourism contributed $500,000 to assist upgrade Ohakune’s sewerage works.”

“Unfortunately the money allocated to the Tourism Demand Subsidy Scheme has all been distributed and the fund has not as yet been replenished.”

“With the completion of the Pureroa Forest Timber Trail we now have close to 400kms of new cycle ways within Ruapehu or in partnership with other districts (Waitomo and Wanganui) that we are in part now responsible for.”

“Government expectation has always been that the cost of maintaining, enhancing and extending the tracks as required fell to land owners which are often the local territorial authorities.”

“This also includes community funded tracks that have now been handed over to the council.”

Mayor Cameron added that it is not just the new cycle ways that need further financial support.

“Key access roads and other tourism supporting infrastructure needs additional investment at this time to maintain levels of service and visitor satisfaction,” he said.

“Council has highlighted that with one million plus visitors now coming into Ruapehu every year we would only need to get one dollar off each to make a significant contribution to our infrastructure demands.”

“We are looking at every possible opportunity to lessen the impact on our ratepayers and share the financial burden with others.”

“Ultimately however communities and key beneficiaries need to look largely to their own resources and resourcefulness to fund their necessary infrastructure requirements,” he said.

“If Ruapehu tourism is to continue to grow and develop the visitor industry will need to contribute to that growth and development.”

“The challenge is how do we do this?”

“We would urge all tourism operators to put in a submission to the Draft EAP with their thoughts and ideas on what they would feel would be fair and equitable options for generating new revenue streams from within the industry.”

“If you require more detailed information please see www.ruapehudc.govt.nz , call your local Council office, or email info@ruapehudc.govt.nz with your questions.”

“Council looks forward to receiving your formal submissions on this issue.”

Ends

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