The tourism industry is welcoming the news that as many as seven cycleway projects could be expected to get underway this summer,Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) Chief Executive Tim Cossar says.
In a speech to Local Government New Zealand this morning, Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key said the Government has allocatedthe first $9 million of its $50 million cycleway fund, confirming that work on seven projects is expected be underway by November.
“It’s great to see that work on these first cycleway projects will be progressing swiftly and that regional communities have come onboard to support so many projects so quickly,”Mr Cossar says.
“The cycle routes that have been identified cover a wide regional spread and are located in areas where cyclists will not only be able to experience some of New Zealand’s awesome natural scenery but also learn a great deal about our country’s regional history, culture and heritage.”
However, the work required to attract cyclists to the planned trails should not be underestimated, Mr Cossar says, reminding planners that the Otago Rail Trial took nearly a decade to reach the level of popularity that it now enjoys.
“For these trails to be successful, they will need strong marketing investment and strong local community support. There will need to be local experiences that take the rider on a journey of meeting people and interacting with local people in their day-to-day lives.
“Planners will also need to consider everything from safety and quality to ensuring that the necessary facilities, rest stops and range of rides, offering different skill levels, are available for riders wanting to enjoy a great outdoor experience,” Mr Cossar says.
“If these factors are implemented successfully and the necessary marketing budget is made available, then New Zealand’s regional tourism operators will have some outstanding new products to sell to domestic and international visitors. This will leave them well-placed to bring some positive financial returns to New Zealand’s regional communities,” he adds.