The hotel industry has been urged to play their part in accessing the $102m Tourism Infrastructure Fund in what has been framed as a ‘use it or lose it’ situation.
Speaking at the New Zealand Hotel Industry Conference Auckland Airport’s chief executive, Adrian Littlewood, said if the fund is not used then it will be scrapped by government.
He said: “I would also encourage you to get involve in the TIF because I think the worse thing that could happen is that is not fully subscribed to good quality projects and the government cuts it.
“That will happen if, as an industry, we aren’t putting forward and working on great ideas that play to the mandate of that fund and if they don’t get funded, or they are poor quality, it will get cut.
“I think the onus is on us to organize ourselves in our regions to work with council, your tourism agency, Tourism Industry Aotearoa and others to make that happen because that will build confidence with the government to continue and expand it.”
He added that the Tourism Minister, Paula Bennett, signaled that the government are open to other ideas around feasibility in bigger projects, “so it’s up to us now to fill that brief”.
He was supported by Ministry Business Innovation and Employment, general manager tourism, sectors. regions & cities. Iain Cossar.
Cossar said: “I absolutely agree with you. If it’s not well subscribed this year and oversubscribed next year treasury will cut it. They will say it’s not going out the door, you don’t need it, it’s gone. “
Cossar added that the hotel industry also needs to “lean in” to the regional growth programme which sees MVIE work with regions across the country to come up with a plan for their future growth.
He said: “Tourism comes up in those regional plans sometimes very thoughtfully in a structured manner, but sometimes in a very ad hoc and almost random way, and sometimes it’s not there at all.
“So I would encourage you to lean into those exercises to support tourism’s presence in those regional growth programmes in a clear and systemic way.”
The four-year $102m TIF was announced by Tourism Minister Paula Bennett in a pre-budget announcement in May.
It is to be invested in partnership with local councils and other community organisations, for projects like new carparks, toilets and freedom camping facilities.
This fund is made up of $60.5m in new money from Budget 2017 and $41.5m in funds which have been reprioritised from the Tourism Growth Partnership and the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund.