Among the events that received funding in the first round was the Middle-Earth Halfling Marathon, staged at Hobbiton Movie Set. Photo / Supplied
A total of 34 events across the Waikato, Rotorua, Taupō and Ruapehu regions will receive nearly $3 million in funding from the Government’s Thermal Explorer Regional Events Fund.
The fund was set up by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to support and provide new domestic visitation opportunities for the events and tourism sectors which have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Regional tourism organisations from across the country have been appointed as facilitators of the fund.
Last year’s round of funding supported 15 events in the region with $1.6m while the latest allocation gives $1.3m to 19 events.
The events receiving funding support are a mixture of new and existing ones from diverse interest areas including business, sport, fitness, trail running, cars, music, and culture.
In total, the 34 events are predicted to attract over 300,000 people, with two-thirds being visitors from outside each host region. Some events have three-year funding agreements while others have received a one-year investment to boost their development.
Among the events that received funding in the first round was the Middle-Earth Halfling Marathon, staged at Hobbiton Movie Set at the end of April this year.
This inaugural event drew in 2500 people including 1000 competitors, some of whom dressed in costume. They ran or walked one of two distances around the picturesque village of Hobbiton, either the halfling (21.1km) or the eleventy-first (11.1km).
Middle-Earth Halfling Marathon event director Matt Reilly, of The Events Agency, says the Thermal Explorer funding enabled the event to get off the ground.
“The support gave us the seed funding necessary for us to be able to confidently move forward with developing what proved to be a successful event even in its first year and will only grow in the years to come.
“We’re already out there inviting runners and their supporters to mark their calendars for next year’s Middle-Earth Halfling Marathon.”
Other events that secured funding include New Zealand’s Fitness Festival and hunting and outdoor expo Sika Show, both set to take place at Mystery Creek in October, the Waitomo Trail Run in November and the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival in February and March next year.
The Thermal Explorer Event Investment Panel that facilitates the fund is made up of eight members and Hamilton & Waikato Tourism is the lead entity.
Hamilton & Waikato Tourism chief executive Nicola Greenwell says the regions and event organisers are “immensely excited” about the opportunities made possible through the funding.
“The support allows the funded events to be developed, positioned and marketed to be or become an iconic or anchor event for the host region, growing exponentially each event, attracting out-of-region visitation, encouraging economic benefit and boosting capability in our events sector.”
Greenwell says the focus will now be on developing events sector capability across the Thermal Explorer regions.
“The ongoing upskilling of our events sector will best position the events being staged in our regions to be extraordinarily successful and sought after – not only by our local communities but also visitors to each of our regions.
“We’ve already held some well-attended capability-building workshops and webinars and we are expanding these along with other development initiatives.”
For more information on the Thermal Explorer Regional Events Fund and to view the full list of funding recipients, visit the Hamilton & Waikato Tourism website.