Visit Ruapehu under review
The Ruapehu District Council has been reviewing the operation of its Regional Tourism Organisation, 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.
Rural districts like Ruapehu cannot afford to self fund the degree of investment required to promote the tourism sector and pay for the infrastructure required to protect the environment and enhance the visitor experience.
The council’s economic development manager Warren Furner said a national conversation was underway about the financial support required for small ratepayer based regions sitting on large recreational assets.
‘‘Ever since Council was selected to lead the unlocking of regional tourism potential as part of the Accelerate25 (Manawatu¯ -Whanganui) Economic Action Plan, we have been struggling to properly resource Visit Ruapehu.’’
Furner said council has an important role in ensuring the Ruapehu economy benefits from the massive growth in tourism.
This is estimated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to reach 4.9m visitors and $15 billion in spending by 2023.
Growth does not include domestic visitor numbers that are also expected to continue to grow strongly.
Furner said all the political parties wanted to do more to 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.
‘‘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,’’ Furner said.
The research on this new entity is due to be completed by March 2018.
‘‘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,’’ Furner said.
Community consultation on these issues will be part of next years 2018-2028 Long Term Plan consultation.