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Possibilities for new RTO arrangements

Possibilities for new RTO arrangements

Ruapehu District Council has been reviewing the operation of its Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) Visit Ruapehu.

The review includes looking at what type of structure and arrangement would best provide long-term, sustainable support, for the central North Island tourism and visitor sector.

Ruapehu Economic Development Manager Warren Furner said that there was a national conversation underway about the financial support required for small ratepayer bases sitting on large recreational assets.

“Rural districts like Ruapehu cannot afford to self-fund the degree of investment required to promote their tourism sector, and pay for the infrastructure required to protect their environment, and enhance the visitor experience,” he said.

“Ever since Council was selected to lead the unlocking of regional tourism potential as part of the Accelerate25 (Manawatū-Whanganui) Economic Action Plan we have been struggling to properly resource Visit Ruapehu.”

“Although only being 1.5% of Council expenditure the investment in tourism has been a hotly debated issue within both Council and the community over the last few years.”

“Within Council however, there is now general agreement that the massive growth in tourism that is expected to reach 4.9m visitors and $15 billion in spending by 2023* is too big an opportunity to ignore and that Council has an important role in ensuring the Ruapehu economy benefits from this.” (*Ministry of Business, Innovation and Expenditure (MBIE) estimates)

“These MBIE estimates do not include the growth in domestic visitor numbers that are also expected to continue to grow strongly.”

Mr. Furner noted that although there are variations in approach all the political parties that could be part of the next government support doing more to financially assist regional NZ.

“The previous National government has supported MBIE to fund Council to research what a new central North Island promotional tourism organisation could look like,” he said.

“This could see a new tourism entity supported with new funding sources taking over the responsibilities currently performed by Visit Ruapehu and other central North Island RTOs and agencies.”

“The research on this new entity is due to be completed by March 2018 and assuming it is supported by government, Council and other stakeholders it is seen as a medium term (2018-2021) possibility.”

“In the short term Council is looking to enhance the ability of Visit Ruapehu to deliver against its current work programme of promotion, partnership development and sustaining the growth and development of Ruapehu tourism.”

Mr. Furner noted that further community consultation on these all issues would be part of next year’s 2018-2028 Long Term Plan (LTP) consultation.

*End*

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