Sunday, April 14, 2024

Shot in arm for Canterbury tourism

A new tourism attraction launched in the Canterbury high country is designed to transform the regional economy from seasonal peaks and troughs of past visitor trends, the Minister of Regional Economic Development and Tourism said today.

Minister Stuart Nash officially opened the Ōpuke Pools at Methven, which has received government backing from the Provincial Growth Fund.

“The new thermal pool, spa and wellbeing complex is a vote of confidence in the future of tourism and the regional economy around Methven and Mount Hutt,” said Mr Nash.

“Ōpuke Pools is an example of innovative thinking and partnerships. It offers new economic solutions to challenges facing the town, local businesses and jobs. The complex uses solar power from a farm of solar panels to heat water straight from the mountains.

“It will allow Methven to become a year-round tourist destination, building on its existing reputation as a winter skiing and adventure resort.”

The Minister said it will help the economy transition from a focus on short-term jobs, to an “all year” town with more visitors and permanent jobs.

“I congratulate all those involved in the project which not only targets domestic Kiwi travellers, but also casts ahead to the return of high-end international visitors,” said Mr Nash.

“It is a difficult balance between a luxury tourism offering and one that also makes room for budget-conscious local travellers The Ōpuke resort has facilities aimed at families and kids, as well as private facilities and a wellness and therapy centre.”

The government has provided a $7.5 million loan structured and tailored specifically to the nature of the project, with the balance funded by the private sector and supported by local councils and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum.

“It is the third largest Provincial Growth Fund project in the Canterbury region, after the new race track at Riccarton and the Wakatu Quay development in Kaikōura. This sort of investment is transformational, and part of a wider Government strategy to strengthen our regional economies, businesses and jobs.”

“The wider Canterbury region experienced a boom in domestic tourism prior to the latest COVID-19 outbreak, as Kiwis got off the beaten track to see their own backyard, with government tourism promotions like the “Do Something New, NZ” marketing campaign.

“Domestic tourism spending in Canterbury was worth $1.44 billion in the year to September 2021, an increase of 25 per cent on the previous year, and up 21 per cent on pre-COVID spending in the year to September 2019.

 “We have faith in the Opuke vision and want the best for the Methven regional economy,” Mr Nash said.

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