Cash cut will hurt tourism

Four of Hamilton and Waikato Tourism’s local authority partners – including Waipā – will reduce their funding from July 1.

And the flow on impact is likely to hit the region hard with job losses and business sustainability, chief executive Nicola Greenwell told Waipā’s Finance and Corporate committee this week.

Nicola Greenwell

The decisions by Hamilton and Waikato councils to strip 50 per cent off their funding for the regional tourism organisation, Waipā cutting 20 per cent and a “severe” trim by Waitomo were not unexpected given the financial situations local authorities around the country find themselves in.

Matamata-Piako is holding on while Ōtorohanga has yet to decide.

Funding to external organisations like Hamilton and Waikato Tourism, i-Sites and event organisers are generally the first to go when the squeeze goes on. The same happened nearly 20 years ago in Waikato which resulted in a decline in visitor numbers and spend.

The meeting was held after The News went to press.

Greenwell gave a positive message about how Waipā’s share to the organisation last financial year of $171,864 and $183,000 this year had been well utilised.

Te Awa River Ride

Hamilton and Waikato Tourism’s annual operating budget is $1.343 million – one of the lowest in New Zealand.

To the end of October, domestic visitors contributed $172 million to the Waipā economy and international visitors contributed $44 million.

Occupancy rates at the district’s commercial accommodation operators tipped about 52 per cent till the end of December with 213,500 guest nights for the 12 months.

A campaign which ran towards the end of the year highlighting Waikato as one of the largest berry growing regions in the country bore fruit with numbers up for pick your own locations and dining.

The organisation also profiled the Cambridge portion of Te Awa River Ride, Karāpiro and Te Koo Utu lakes, Bike Skills Park, Velodrome, Te Miro Mountain Bike Park, Matariki Waipā walks, parks and events, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and the Tree Church through its various channels.

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