Innovative projects and schemes dedicated to promoting Taonga Māori would be a priority for the Innovation Programme. Photo / Stephanie Holmes
Applications have opened for the Innovation Programme for Tourism Recovery, an initiative designed to improve New Zealand’s tourism sector.
The $54 million Innovation Programme will focus on projects that helped the tourism industry deliver on its goals, said tourism minister Stuart Nash.
“We want to see projects that are sustainable, low carbon and that can deliver on our goals for a high skilled and high wage sector,” he said.
The minister added that projects must make “a real difference” for a visitor’s journey, from the moment they start dreaming of a trip, to returning home and telling others about the experience.
Nash acknowledged that Covid had been a “difficult time” for the tourism industry, despite support via the $400 million Tourism Recovery Package and $200 million Tourism Communities Plan.
However, he said the industry was in a place where they could start looking forward.
“I’m pleased that we are now at a stage where we are fully focused on a bright and innovative future for our tourism sector,” he said.
“We are already at 88 per cent of International Electronic card transactions spend compared to 2019 and summer season has only just started,” said Stuart Nash.
What projects is the programme looking for?
As hinted by the name, the Innovation Programme for Tourism Recovery is dedicated to both repairing the tourism industry and innovating ways to be more secure and sustainable in the future.
Projects that reduce carbon emissions, improve biodiversity and protect the natural environment will be considered, according to the minister.
Iwi / hapū or Māori enterprises with projects dedicated to promoting Taonga Māori will also be a priority, as well as projects that use technology to lift productivity or capability of the tourism sector and improve resilience to future impacts.
“We welcome innovative and impactful ideas that are going to contribute towards bettering business models, processes and experiences for tourism in Aotearoa,” said Nash, adding that other sectors could also propose projects that could have a transformative impact on tourism.
How will funding work?
The programme will be delivered across two funding streams.
One stream will focus on developing projects that need further conceptual work. These projects will receive up to $25,000 in co-funding.
The second stream is for projects that are ready for delivery, with full proposals and business cases. Successful projects will receive between $100,000 and $10 million.
Why the focus on sustainability?
Nash said developing and achieving a “regenerative tourism” model was critical for several reasons.
This would ensure the tourism industry has a positive impact on the environment, can adapt to climate events and appeal to new consumer priorities.
“We expect that visitors are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their travel,” Nash said.
“It’s vitally important we continue preserving our natural environment as one of our key attractions as a world class destination.”