Waitomo Caves will benefit from a funding grant issued as part of the New Zealand budget.
Waitomo Caves will benefit from a funding grant issued as part of the New Zealand budget.

Government grants under the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme (STAPP) have begun to roll out as part of the New Zealand budget, with eligible businesses urged to act fast, says Tourism Industry Aotearoa.

Criteria for the first round of STAPP grants was recently released and has seen NZD$4 million issued to Discover Waitomo along with NZD$20.2 million spread across 31 smaller regional tourism organisations in New Zealand.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa CEO, Chris Roberts, said the government has correctly identified it needs to protect some key tourism assets, which form the core of the industry as a whole.

“In order for the tourism industry to rebuild and recover, we need businesses to survive this crisis.

Franz Josef is one of 31 regional areas to receive a funding boost.

“Today’s announcements provide no direct support for the thousands of small and medium enterprises that are the majority of tourism businesses. However, saving iconic businesses like Discover Waitomo provides significant employment and economic spin-offs for the local region.”

Roberts added he was pleased to see funding coming through for the country’s regional tourism organisations – many of whom were doing things extremely tough.

“These are the organisations that work hard to attract visitors to their regions, thereby supporting all local tourism operators as well as local retailers, hospitality businesses and support services.

“With the pressure on council budgets around the country, many RTOs are struggling financially at a time when their role is more important than ever,” Roberts added.

Applications for STAPP grants will close on 18 June, TIA added.