Welcome Help For South Island Tourism Regions Hit Hard By Covid-19
Two key Canterbury tourism regions are among the five South Island communities targeted for specific support through a $200 million Tourism Communities Plan announced today by Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.
He announced a raft of measures aimed at supporting the tourism industry in his speech to the tourism industry’s annual TRENZ conference being held in Ōtautahi Christchurch. Half of the 12 programs announced as part of the Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan are focused on the most vulnerable South Island regions: Fiordland, South Westland, Queenstown Lakes, Mackenzie District and Kaikōura. The remaining six are nationwide initiatives aimed at longer-term challenges.
The measures targeted at the five South Island regions include a $49 million kick-start fund for grants to businesses that have gone into hibernation or suspended operations to help reopen and resume trading once international visitors return; $10 million in grants for businesses to get expert advice on planning and decision-making in response to COVID-19 ($5,000 per business) and another $10 million ($5,000 per business) to help businesses implement that advice; and $4.5 million for psychological and social wellbeing support and training.
“The economic impact of the loss of international visitors is felt beyond the tourism workforce and businesses,” Nash said. “Whole communities, especially in five South Island regions, are facing new challenges to their way of life.
Joanna Norris, the CEO of Christchurch’s economic development agency ChristchurchNZ, welcomed the targeted support for South Island regions and the recognition of the significant impact Covid-19 has had on South Island and regional communities.
“This is an extremely strong package that recognises some of the systematic challenges facing the tourism sector. We’re pleased to see it reaches across issues including mental health, capability building within the sector, Māori development, and the need for transformation and economic diversification.
“ChristchurchNZ is strongly supportive of the Minister’s commitment to rebuilding the industry with a focus on a sustainable model for the future.”
The nationwide initiatives include $26 million for a new round of annual grant funding for Regional Tourism Organisations to manage, plan, promote and market tourism activities in their regions. The surge in domestic tourism in the past year has been a boost for some traditionally out-of-the-way regions, and the new investment will build on this.