Ruapehu Alpine Lifts investment raises questions

Whakapapa skifield.
Ruapehu Alpine Lifts

Whakapapa skifield.

A last minute addition to fund $100,000 to support Visit Ruapehu in its latest joint venture with Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) has been added to the draft exceptions annual plan.

The increase would support RAL's $100 million plan to put Mt Ruapehu on the world stage as the country's ski region of choice.

Plans are currently underway on gaining a strong foot hold in the Australian market.

A total of $50,000 would be committed this year and a further $50,000 for 2017/2018.

Councillor Karen Ngatai said it was an awesome initiative but questioned if the money could be sourced somewhere else.

"We are already supporting tourism with thousands of dollars and we need to be looking at what we're already proposing," she said.

Ruapehu District Council chief executive Clive Manley said there was a lot of scrutiny over Visit Ruapehu's budget but it would hurt local operators more if they were told to find their own money.

"What Visit Ruapehu is trying to promote all our activities in the region. It's trying to help our accommodation providers and transport operators. If we take money from them to give it to marketing ski, your actually taking money from your operators in your district who are trying to broaden the season to ski season."

Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron said Visit Ruapehu were currently building relationships with other tourist operators.

"Big operators will put money forward but smaller ones not at this stage and that's something we're going to have to work on as well as changing our way we deal with." 

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The Taupo District Council recently approved $100,000 of funding for the next two years to support RAL.

Part of the company's plan is to transform Taupo into a destination hub for snow seekers by offering two retail offerings and a shuttle service every 30 minutes.

There would also be significant wider economic benefits for the Ruapehu District as the proposal included a free shuttle service from both Whakapapa Village and National Park to the Whakapapa ski area, and from Ohakune to Turoa.

General manager for Destination Great Lake Taupo, Damian Coutts, said the initial stage would be a fly then promotion because of flight schedule issues with Air NZ.

"What we need from Air NZ is a change to flight timetables. The idea is a fly drive proposition with the hope to convince Air NZ to change the flight schedule and change the time for flight connection."

 - Stuff

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