More funding for tourism
Tourism Industry Aotearoa figures show that CluthaSouthland has the second highest tourism earnings in the country, behind Auckland central.
The yearly national figures for domestic and international tourists by electorate up to December showed a tourism spend of $2,497,740,601.
Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay said guest nights in Clutha-Southland had continued to grow, with 3,511,898 in Queenstown in the year to March 2017, 640,199 in Fiordland, 90,226 in Clutha, and 432,136 in Southland.
These figures coincided with the announcement last week of the Government’s $178 million tourism package, designed to help fund the building of further amenities, such as toilets and carparks, which have been struggling to keep up with the overwhelming demand of the tourist boom in recent years.
The package includes a $102m Tourism Infrastructure Fund and $76m funding for the ‘‘DOC Estate’’, to help alleviate pressure on popular attractions.
This would include Milford Sound, part of the DOC Estate, which up to March had attracted 840,000 people.
The annual number of arrivals would soon tip over the one million mark, Barclay said.
‘‘In that year, these visitors arrived in Milford Sound in more than 70,000 campervans, tens of thousands of rental cars, at peak times up to 95 buses per day, and we need to be able to sustainably manage this. There is only one road in and out, and just six per cent of visitors arrived by air.’’
He has established an initiative called the Milford Opportunities Project, to help manage Milford Sound’s visitor growth in the future.
Barclay said the infrastructure fund initiative was good news for Clutha-Southland’s sparsely populated towns and communities because it recognised the disproportionate demands on infrastructure generated by high volumes of tourists.
‘‘A lot of our towns and communities experiencing this growth in Clutha-Southland have a limited ability to respond to the pressures associated with it because of low ratepayer bases.’’
He had received correspondence from various sectors of the community calling for the Government to invest more in local infrastructure.
The first of two annual rounds will open later this year.