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Small towns selected for infrastructure funding

Small towns selected for infrastructure funding

Three rural communities are to receive substantial cash injections from the government to help maximise benefits from tourism, Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor announced today.

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Three rural communities are to receive substantial cash injections from the government to help maximise benefits from tourism, Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor announced today.

The awards come from the Tourism Demand Subsidy Scheme, an $11 million fund set up in 2004 to help qualifying small communities fund water and wastewater infrastructure needed to sustain growing tourist numbers.

In the first announcement of successful applicants under the three-year programme, more than $2 million in grants has been allocated. Far North District Council is to receive $872,224 for a wastewater project in Paihia, Ruapehu District Council: $516,915 for Ohakune wastewater, and Westland District Council: $771,013 for Franz Josef water and wastewater projects.

Thirty-two communities from 16 districts applied to the Tourism Demand Subsidy Scheme, and the $11million available is heavily oversubscribed.

Damien O'Connor said the successful schemes announced today were well thought out and presented and stood up to a thorough assessment process. Applications are evaluated on proposed public health and environmental benefits, affordability, tourist flows and the percentage of tourist driven costs.

Further assessment of the remaining applications is continuing, with decisions expected by the end of March.

The scheme is a key part of the government's commitment to ensuring sustainable tourism development, Mr O'Connor said. New Zealand is forecast to receive an extra 19 million international and domestic visitor nights by 2011, and regardless of the added demand visitors will still expect hot showers, clean drinking water, and functional toilets.

"The government understands that rapid growth in tourism can place pressures on some smaller communities, particularly where rating bases are small. The investment needed to build infrastructure to meet the needs of visitors can be much higher per capita than in larger cities." Mr O'Connor said.

The scheme is closely aligned with the Sanitary Works Subsidy Scheme administered by the Ministry of Health. The ministries of tourism, health, and internal affairs, and Local Government New Zealand developed it jointly. Comment was sought on the scheme design from all key stakeholders, including councils, district health boards, community groups and the tourism industry.

ENDS

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