A new ‘wellness’ tourism attraction in Rotorua is expected to bring thousands more tourists to the region.
Regional Development Minister, Kiri Allan officially opened the Wai-Ariki Hot Springs and Spa on Thursday following a five-year development with $52.21 million investment from the Government.
The project employed up to 250 people through construction and supported a number of local businesses, the Minister said.
“This is one of the biggest developments in Rotorua in the last 20 years. It is the first major purpose-built spa and bathing facility since the original Rotorua bathhouse was built over 120 years ago,” said Ms Allan.
“This is the latest example of how the Government has made investing in the regions a strategic priority.”
Minister Allan said the project had been near the definition of ‘shovel-ready’ when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, with the staged process of the build meaning much of the preliminary planning work was already completed.
“Our funding hasn’t just supported the creation of new tourism infrastructure, it helped maintain and create jobs and support industries at a time when it was needed most,” she said.
Minister Peeni Henare said Rotorua was well-placed to welcome international visitors back and tap into the trillion-dollar international ‘wellness tourism’ market.
“Wellness tourism is a high-value visitor category, with total visitor spend on health and wellbeing over $1.7 million just this past April. ‘Relaxation and wellbeing’ is on the top three reasons Kiwis travel to destinations outside of where they live,” he said.
“The mineral waters of our geothermally rich regions have long been a feature of New Zealand that our visitors love.
“This is New Zealand’s only spa owned by mana whenua and offers services that incorporate the long standing and unique Ngāti Whakaue practices and culture into their environment and services.
“A facility like this, combined with the manaakitanga provided by Ngāti Whakaue and the team onsite providing the services, is a tourism offering of significant potential value for the region,” Mr Henare said.