Nelson’s tourism industry has received some positive news with Air New Zealand increasing flights to and from the region.
Air New Zealand released its flight schedule for July and August, which includes a significant increase in the number of flights coming in and out of Nelson.
During those two months, there will be a total of just over 10,000 seats available for flights.
This will include 32 weekly return services to/from Auckland, 33 return services to/from Wellington, and 25 return services to/from Christchurch.
At a national level, this means Air New Zealand’s flight numbers will be boosted to about 55 per cent of its normal pre-Covid capacity.
Along with the return of flights in July, money has been freed up from central government to support regional tourism organisations (RTOs) – including the Nelson Regional Development Agency.
On Thursday Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis announced that up to $20.2m was being made available to the 31 RTOs throughout the country.
This money would be put towards implementing Destination Management and planning, as well as helping enable other projects to support regional tourism.
In 2019 Nelson’s tourism industry contributed $664m to the local economy, and prior to Covid-19 provided nearly 12 per cent of the working population in the region.
Nelson Regional Development Agency chief executive Mark Rawson said the funding was an opportunity to help tourist operators in the region “who are really hurting right now”.
“The timing is great as we already have the key elements of a [destination management] plan in place and have just begun the conversations about how to fund it.
“What many people may not realise is that around 50 per cent of our visitor related funding comes from our private sector partners, however given their current situation as a result of Covid-19 that will not be available for the coming year.“
Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said while the funding boost was welcome, more needed to be done to support local tourism operators.
Reese said Nelson’s tourism sector had been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 lockdown.
“We are in a unique position here, in that 60 per cent of our tourism is domestic, so the money provided for destination management plans will be invaluable in attracting New Zealanders to Nelson.”
Reese said there was scope for the Government to do more – in particular through an extension of the wage support subsidy for tourism businesses
“There needs to be recognition that they are in an acutely difficult position and will be until our borders can open.”
Credit: Tim Newman, Stuff