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Taupo District Council gets in behind Ruapehu development
15 June 2018
Taupo District Council gets in behind Ruapehu development
Taupo District Council is to buy $1 million of investment bonds in a gondola project on Mt Ruapehu that is expected to be a 'game changer' for tourism in the Central North Island.
The decision was made at a confidential extraordinary meeting last week following news that the project was to attract a $10 million loan from the Government's Regional Growth Fund.  That announcement was made public by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones at Ohakune today.
The council's investment will come from the council's TEL fund which has a diverse investment portfolio including property, bank deposits, shares and bonds.  There is no impact on rates.
Mayor David Trewavas said the council had been in discussions with Ruapehu Alpine Lifts for some time about the project and investment was seen as prudent given the economic return the district was likely to receive. Other investors include Ruapehu District Council and iwi.
Mr Trewavas said while the decision was not unanimous, the majority of councillors felt it was the right thing to do and $1 million was a fair representation from the district.
"This will be an absolute game changer for tourism in the Central North Island and with the expected increase in visitor numbers, we are expecting our district to do very well, particularly Turangi," he said.  
"We expect more employment opportunities will be created and it will further cement our position as a viable alternative to Queenstown not only for snow and skiing during the winter months but now with extended sightseeing opportunities, year round," he said. 
The council's vision was to be the most liveable and prosperous district in the North Island by 2022.  The investment was consistent with that vision and the District Economic Strengthening Strategy adopted by the Council in May.
Last year the council chose to invest $100,000 over two years in a Tourism New Zealand marketing campaign to attract skiers to the Whakapapa ski fields from the eastern seaboard of Australia.  That had proved very successful and was continuing to pay dividends, Mr Trewavas said.
The increase in visitor numbers was also likely to assist the council in attracting external funding for upgrading Taupo Airport facilities which was considered a catalyst project in the strategy and was consulted on as part of the council's 2018-2028 Long-term Plan. 
PHOTO: Taupo Mayor David Trewavas, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts chairman Murray Gribben and chief executive Ross Copland at today's announcement.