Tourism Minister Bennett appoints infrastructure fund panel chaired by Judy Kirk

Tourism Minister Paula Bennett has named a seven-strong panel to oversee the $100 million tourism infrastructure fund that's designed to help the regions cope with the demands of record numbers of foreign visitors.

The panel will assess proposals and recommend projects to the government with the first funding round set to open later this year, Bennett said in a statement. The panel will be chaired by Airways Corp chair and past National Party president Judy Kirk with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development director and former Air New Zealand executive Norm Thompson her deputy.

The panel is rounded out with Whale Watch Kaikoura manager Kauahi Ngapora, Tourism Industry Association boss Chris Roberts, Southland Regional Development Strategy director Sarah Hannah, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment tourism manager Iain Cossar and Department of Conservation policy and visitors deputy director-general Bruce Parkes.

"It's important that we are supporting those communities most in need of assistance and funding facilities so they really benefit from the growth we're seeing in the tourism sector," Bennett said.

The infrastructure fund was a Budget initiative setting aside money for the next four years to partner with local authorities and community organisations for projects such as new car parks, toilets and freedom camping facilities, which have all come under pressure by the growing demand. The fund was in conjunction with an extra $76 million for DoC to upgrade tourist facilities on conservation land.

The fund is made up of $60.5 million in new money from Budget 2017 and $41.5 million in funds which have been reprioritised from the Tourism Growth Partnership and the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund. Of that, $2 million over four years has been provided to manage the fund.

(BusinessDesk)

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