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Source: Kelly Makiha // 12:51, 19 May 2020 From NZ Herald
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says more public holidays for Kiwis to experience New Zealand is among a number of things the Government is "actively considering" to encourage domestic tourism.
Ardern is in Rotorua meeting with key leaders to discuss the tourism industry's recovery.
"My message to Kiwis is, come and experience your own backyard and come and experience the cultural and hospitality here in Aotearoa."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Te Puia in Rotorua today. Photo / Andrew Warner
Take a two-hour trip and come experience it for yourself, she said. They were also educational experiences.
Ardern was at Te Puia New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute for a series of discussions on how the region is coping following the alert level lockdowns and the plan for the future.
It comes after the Government announced $7.6 million funding for it to get back on its feet.
Ardern told media the extra support was in place to ensure New Zealand has weavers and carvers and people with specialist Maori knowledge.
She said the funding was specifically for Te Puia, not Rotorua as a whole, and there was more funding available for other tourism organisations.
Rotorua would be a place that would "thrive again" once we get out of the pandemic, with support.
Ardern warned some large scale tourism operations would need to go into hibernation.
Ardern is accompanied by Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis and Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey.
Davis said Hobbiton would likely be one of the assets saved by the $400m tourism fund.
Maori tourism had unique offerings for the world, which was why there was a specific approach for the sector, said Mahuta.
The Goverment was asking for greater collaboration across tourism operations, Mahuta said.
She was greeted at Te Puia by Te Puia kaumatua Taparoto Nicholson and is having a closed door meeting with board members and key staff.
She spent time chatting with the institute's carving school workers who have said they are able to keep working thanks to the Government's fund.
She met master carver Clive Fugill who has been at the institute for 53 years and Ardern joked "so you are just an apprentice then".
He replied he is still learning every day.
Ardern met with leaders at Destination Rotorua this morning and will talk with Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick and deputy mayor Dave Donaldson.
When asked about hospitality, she said there was "a big difference" between what New Zealand was doing than other countries and the Government had worked with the sector to mitigate the risk of flare-ups of Covid-19 when bars open.
Photo / Andrew Warner
Ardern's visit to Te Puia comes after the Government announced $7.6 million funding for it to get back on its feet.
The money is part of the Government's Budget package that has seen $900m allocated to support Māori.
The funding boost was go be discussed today with chief executive Tim Cossar and members of Te Puia's board.
Te Puia was forced to shut its doors on March 21 and some staff lost jobs.
The tourism heavyweight was formed in 1926 and operates as a tourism venture with specialised education schools dedicated to Māori arts and crafts. It is heavily reliant on the international tourism market.