Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau graced the grand opening of the new $25-million Sky Waka Gondola in Mt. Ruapehu last Friday.
The project received a $10 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), a key initiative by New Zealand First to boost the economy of provincial New Zealand. This vital tourist infrastructure will ensure that the number of closed days at the Whakapapa ski area will be drastically reduced, given its stability in high winds and alpine weather.
The new Gondala will also open Mt. Ruapehu to year-round tourism, providing reliable access to the Knoll Ridge Chalet – which is New Zealand’s highest restaurant - and also to a range of walking tracks on this popular ski destination.
“It’s anticipated that this project will boost tourism across the central North Island by 500,000 people annually by 2025 and forecast to double regional tourism income to $400 million a year by 2028,” Under-Secretary Tabuteau said.
“With such high visitor numbers, not only will there be more jobs on the ski field, but the flow on effect will mean more local jobs will be created for local people.”
Under-Secretary Tabuteau also announced today two PGF grants totalling $525,000 to support the Ruapehu District Council in undergoing vital long-term planning to foster sustainable tourism growth.
“The aim of the PGF is to lift the productivity potential of regional New Zealand by empowering communities and enabling regions’ access to sustainable economic development,” he added.