Events and Attractions Investment Fund a Step Closer

20 October 2011

An investment fund that aims to secure the future of significant regional events and attractions has been given the go ahead to progress to the next stage of development by Wellington City Councillors.

The Council's Strategy and Policy Committee today agreed to push ahead with a Wellington Mayoral Forum proposal to establish a regional amenities fund.

The fund would be invested in events and attractions that contribute to the region's quality of life and the economy.

The intention is to start with a $2 million fund in 2013/14, increasing by $250,000 each year until a cap, agreed by the Mayoral Forum, is reached. A panel of six independent assessors will determine how the money is spent although their decisions must be ratified by the Mayoral Forum.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the amenities fund is an opportunity for regional cooperation to safeguard the future of existing events and attractions and to create new ones.

"This is about the Wellington region using its collective resources to ensure we not only preserve those events and attractions we already have. It's also about putting us in a strong position to develop new amenities that benefit the whole region.

"This fund is essential. We can't afford to not have it. We need to remain competitive, internationally and nationally. Auckland has an amenities fund that provided almost $13 million to 10 amenities this year. The difference in available funding is going to make it increasingly difficult for our events and attractions to compete. While our fund is considerably less, we need to act now and support our amenities.

"This fund has benefits beyond immediate visitation and tourism, as the regional amenities fund supports the economic wellbeing of the region through industry development and job creation."

Earlier this year, a telephone survey of 2000 residents across the region, by research company Colmar Brunton, found 76 percent of respondents were willing to pay something to support regional amenities. Less-populated areas in the region were deliberately 'over sampled' so that their views could be analysed more robustly. The $2 million fund proposed represents considerably less than the $25 or more a year that 57 percent of surveyed people were willing to pay.

The Mayoral Forum will consider feedback from all councils in the region in November, before making a final decision to consult with the public as part of each council's long term plan early next year.