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Tourism Minister Paula Bennett today announced the panel for the new $100 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund to help local communities respond to increased visitor numbers.

The panel will be responsible for assessing proposals and recommending a package of infrastructure projects that best aligns with the Government’s priorities for the fund, Mrs Bennett says.

“It’s important that we are supporting those communities most in need of assistance and funding facilities so they really benefit from the growth we’re seeing in the tourism sector,” Mrs Bennett says.

“We have ensured that panel members are representative across the sector and the country. Chair Judy Kirk from Taupo brings a wealth of private sector experience and will be supported by Norm Thompson from our country’s largest regional tourism organisation, ATEED.

“Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s Chris Roberts and Whale Watch Kaikoura’s Kauahi Ngapora bring years of commercial experience and expertise from the tourism industry. Kauahi also provides a valuable perspective as a tourism operator working through the Kaikoura earthquake recovery.

“Sarah Hannan from Southland will help ensure interests of local government are represented, and the inclusion of Bruce Parkes means we are aligned with the Department of Conservation in boosting New Zealand’s tourism infrastructure.”

The panel members, appointed for a four year term, are:

Judy Kirk (chair), consultant and experienced director Norm Thompson (deputy chair), Deputy Chair of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development Kauahi Ngapora, General Manager of Whale Watch Kaikoura Chris Roberts, Chief Executive of Tourism Industry Aotearoa Sarah Hannan, Programme Director for the Southland Regional Development Strategy Iain Cossar, General Manager Tourism, Sectors, Regions and Cities at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Bruce Parkes, Deputy Director-General Science and Policy at the Department of Conservation.

The first round of funding will open later this year. A priorities statement will be issued at that time, which will guide the panel’s decisions.

For full biographies of the new panel members, visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

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