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$11 million boost for tourism infrastructure

Small communities get $11 million boost for tourism infrastructure

Tourism Minister Mark Burton today announced an $11 million initiative that will assist small communities to fund basic infrastructure

Government is continuing to work closely with regions and communities across New Zealand to maximise opportunities for economic growth and well-being, Tourism Minister Mark Burton says.

In an address to Local Government New Zealand, Mark Burton today announced an $11 million initiative that will assist small communities to fund the basic infrastructure necessary to maximise local benefits from New Zealand's thriving tourism sector.

"Tourism is an economic powerhouse, contributing close to 16 per cent of New Zealand's total export earnings. The sector makes a vital contribution to New Zealand's economy at the national, regional and local levels, supporting close to one in every ten jobs. Many of these jobs are in small communities where other employment opportunities are often limited.

"We also understand that rapid growth in tourism can place pressures on some of these communities, particularly where rating bases are small. The investment needed to build water and sewerage infrastructure to meet the needs of visitors can be much higher per capita than in larger cities.

"New Zealand is forecast to receive an extra 30 million international and domestic visitor nights by 2009. These visitors will rightly expect effective, infrastructure that delivers hot showers, clean drinking water, and functional toilets, whether they are in Auckland, Wellington, Kaikoura or Franz Josef.

"Last year, a joint Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Economic Development report found that although visitors are currently paying for their use of water and sewerage infrastructure, smaller communities may face difficulties in funding the capital costs of upgrading or replacing these facilities in the future.

"Clearly, we must ensure that this vibrant market is sustainable in the regions of New Zealand. Our goal is a high quality, high-yield industry, solidly based on quality product. A key component of this is appropriate, quality infrastructure across New Zealand. This $11 million investment over the next three years is a significant step towards ensuring support for the small communities that play such an important role in New Zealand's tourism sector.

"But this is only one part of a much larger picture. My Ministry is currently working with a number of other agencies on a three-year project to assess the impact of growing visitor numbers on New Zealand's wider infrastructure.

"Strong infrastructure is absolutely essential for continuing economic growth across New Zealand. That's why the Labour-led government is working with Auckland on its transport problems, why we've established the Electricity Commission, and why we introduced a regional development category for road funding.

"As Minister of Tourism, I am committed to keep working closely with communities and the industry to achieve a truly sustainable tourism sector-one that balances the economic benefits of tourism against the care and protection of all that makes New Zealand special," said Mark Burton.

ENDS

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