Regional Events Fund

The $50 million Regional Events Fund is designed to stimulate domestic tourism and travel between regions through holding events. This is intended to support the tourism and events sector, and replace some of the spend from international tourists as a result of COVID-19.

Events are important for regional travel

Tourism New Zealand research indicates that up to one third of domestic travel is primarily driven by people looking to participate in events. This research also highlights how New Zealanders intend to spend more on domestic holidays including events.

Understanding New Zealander’s sentiment towards domestic travel(external link) – Tourism New Zealand

This provides confidence that domestic visitation will grow especially as outbound travel is in decline. As such, it makes sense to support the events sector, encourage intra-regional travel and increase the spill over benefits across regions.

Funding allocation

The Fund will be split across International Marketing Alliances (IMA) groupings based on their share of international visitor spending prior to COVID-19. The Regional Tourism Organisations in each IMA are highlighted below.

IMA $ million RTOs covered
Northland & Auckland $19.00 Auckland, Northland
Thermal Explorer Highway $3.75 Waikato, Rotorua, Lake Taupō, Ruapehu
Pacific Coast Highway $2.00 Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne
Western North Island $1.00 Whanganui, Taranaki, Manawatu
Wellington & Wairarapa $3.50 Wellington, Wairarapa
Nelson & Marlborough $1.50 Nelson, Marlborough
Canterbury & West Coast $7.00 Christchurch, Aoraki, Mackenzie, Hurunui, West Coast, Kaikōura
Southern Lakes $8.50 Wanaka, Queenstown, Central Otago, Fiordland
Pure Southern Land $1.50 Dunedin, Southland, Waitaki, Clutha
Total to IMAs $47.75  
TRENZ $2.00  
Fund Management $0.25  
Total Fund $50.00  

Regions have received different levels of funding

This fund intends to support those regions hit hardest by the downturn in international visitors. This means each region is receiving funding based on its share of the International Visitor Spend prior to COVID-19.

While funding was determined by International visitor spend, it does not have to be distributed in the same manner within an individual IMA. Panels may want to agree allocating funding by:

  • Breakdown based on international visitor spend % in 2019 (baseline)
  • Breakdown based on visitor spend % (including domestic and international)
  • Share of visitor numbers (including domestic and international)
  • Current event spend % (including RTO and local government contributions)
  • RTO tier size (small, medium or large)
  • Funding round with panel deciding on events based on their own IMA criteria
  • Any other option the Panel agrees is appropriate.

How funding will be distributed

Each IMA will form an Event Investment Panel (Panel) to develop their Regional Investment Plan. RTOs on a Panel should consider whether other key stakeholders should be invited to the Panel (e.g. Council).

The Panel will nominate one RTO as the Lead Entity, who will be responsible for the funding agreement with MBIE. RTNZ and MBIE will confirm the Investment Plans meet the criteria prior to the Lead Entity publishing their plan online.

Regional Events Fund funding is available to the nine IMAs who can provide a Regional Investment Plan that:

  1. Has a duration of two to four years.
  2. Sets out how the Lead Entity will distribute, manage and monitor the funding.
  3. Confirms that all RTOs within the grouping have been invited to participate on the Event Investment Panel.
  4. Sets out how the Lead Entity and/or the Panel will ensure that it invests in feasible and viable events.
  5. Describes how the events package will drive ‘out of region’ domestic visitation (with the region defined by RTO boundaries).
  6. Confirms consensus agreement to the Plan by the Panel.
  7. Confirms that funding will not be used for out of scope activities.
  8. Sets out how the Lead Entity will collect information from funded events for reporting purposes.

Under this model, MBIE will not be making decisions around what events are funded. Each Event Investment Panel will have the autonomy to determine the mix of events that best meets the regions’ needs for the next two to four years.

Regional Events Funding is for a wide-range of event-related activities

The Regional Events Fund can be used for some or all of the following activities:

  • Event funding for new and existing events that drive inter and intra-regional visitation.
  • Capability or capacity building for event management (e.g. manage event programme) for a Lead Entity or Panel Member.
  • Fund management/secretariat.
  • Event strategy development.
  • Event feasibility studies and event development.

This work could be completed by using RTO staff, or by external resource or third party.

A wide range of events can be considered for funding. This includes new or one-off events, and across a broad range of sport, arts, cultural and business events. However, it will be up to the Panel to determine what events will receive funding – as all events that drive inter and intra-regional visitation are eligible to receive funding.

The $50 million Regional Events Fund complements, but is different to, the existing $10 million Domestic Events Fund and Major Events Fund

The $10 million Domestic Events Fund was a short term fund which excludes one-off or small events. The new $50 million Regional Events Fund has a much wider focus, and will look to support longer term broad ranging events.

It is preferable that events that currently receive funding through an MBIE fund, including the Domestic Events Fund or Major Events Fund, do not also receive funding through the Regional Events Fund. This is to minimise duplication with MBIE-funded events, and to ensure that a wide range of events and event subsectors are supported. However, if a region believes that further investment will drive domestic tourism, as is the intent of the Regional Events Fund, then this may be permissible but must be discussed with MBIE first.

The Regional Events Fund can be used to support events that receive funding from other Central Government agencies

MBIE has worked with officials from Sport New Zealand and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage regarding event-specific funds they operate. In order to open up funding for event- or subsector- specific funds, there will be no restriction on regions with regards to funding events using both the Regional Events Fund and other agency event funding. Lead Entities will be required to report on any events that receive funding from both the Regional Events Fund and other Government funds.

Regional Events Fund funding cannot be used:

  • For events which do not drive out of region visitation (for example, a community farmers market, annual Santa parade). This is because these sorts of events do not provide significant flow-on benefits to tourism operators in regions, such as those in the accommodation and hospitality businesses.
  • For destination marketing, as the Regional Tourism Organisation funding through the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme covers this activity. However, marketing for specific events is permitted.
  • As a substitute for existing committed funding (from Local Government or Trust Funds that significantly contribute to regional events). However, it can be used to provide additional scale to an existing event.
  • To competitively bid with other regions for the same event.

How to meet the criteria

The Event Investment Panel must demonstrate how they will meet the criteria:

  1. Consensus – all representatives on a Panel must agree with the proposed Regional Investment Plan.
  2. Representation – all RTOs within an IMA grouping must be offered the opportunity to participate on or nominate a representative for the Panel to ensure regional contribution/benefit.
  3. Feasibility and viability – must demonstrate how a region will have the appropriate facilities to host the proposed events (such as infrastructure, accommodation, waste management and access). This includes how to meet the Event Sector Voluntary Code:
    Covid-19 information for event organisers on Major Events site(external link)
  4. Stimulate domestic visitation – must demonstrate how the Plan will draw visitors from outside their RTO region and are not events targeting purely local community impacts.
  5. Collaborate, not compete – funding must not be used to promote inter-regional competition e.g. no poaching events or similar events at the same time.

Who decides the Regional Investment Plan

The process to access funding will be decided by each Event Investment Panel

Each Event Investment Panel must set out how they will distribute funding for events in their regions. There may be different processes across regions, as the needs and scale of events differ - some may have a more formal approach with applications whilst others will work with their events sector to develop ideas in a more strategic way.

The Lead Entity will:

  • Establish and facilitate the Panel.
  • Develop the Plan and publish it online.
  • Agree and manage the funding agreement with MBIE for the delivery of the Plan.
  • Distribute funding and enter into funding arrangements with other entities (including other RTOs). The security of the public funds invested must be managed through the contracting parties in a way that protects the public investment from unreasonable risk in regard to loss or underwriting.
  • Prior to the events occurring, advise MBIE on behalf of the Panel which events are being funded, and when they will occur.
  • Report on how funding is spent, and the impact it has had in six monthly reports.
  • Agree amendments to the Plan on behalf of the Panel with MBIE.

The Event Investment Panel:

  • Every RTO is entitled to be on the Panel.
  • RTO members of the Panel may choose by consensus to invite other key stakeholders to participate in the Panel to ensure the whole IMA is represented (e.g. Councils, others).
  • Consider investing in events that meet social impact, cultural and/or environmental goals.
  • Agree by consensus to the Plan including any changes periodically.
  • Agree to how the Plan will be monitored and impacts measured. This may incorporate resource utilisation by the Lead Entity.
  • Deliver the Plan.
  • Specific Panel members may also be responsible for actions that are delegated to it by the Panel. This could include entering into funding agreements with Event Organisers.

Regions are responsible for coordinating events - This will both involve collaborating on multi-regional events, and ensuring that regions do not fund events (excluding business events) that have been historically held in other regions.

Event Organiser(s)/Supplier(s)

  • Enter into funding agreements with the Lead Entity or other delegated entity.
  • Deliver the event and report on the impacts according to the agreed impact measures.

Reporting on the outcomes of the investments

Lead Entities will provide six-monthly reports to MBIE on the impact of their plans

At this stage, we do not know which events will be funded, when, where, or how this will change visitation between regions. Panels can phase their budgets in the Regional Investment Plan and agree amendments with MBIE. This will enable Lead Entities and Panels to adapt quickly to the changing environment, for example moving through COVID-19 alert levels.

Lead Entities reports are expected to include:

  • Using established core tourism datasets (such as the Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates), and the new Business Events data for all Business Event reporting (see
    Industry statistics on Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) site(external link)).
  • The Events that received funding.
  • Estimated impact of funding e.g. number of attendees, spend and its impact in driving out of region visitation.
  • Budget vs Actual - The total spent for the 6-month period against the Plan.
  • Funding contributions from local government or Trust(s) for those events receiving Regional Events Fund funding.
  • Any other information that may be relevant.


TRENZ is the largest annual business-to-business trade expo for the tourism industry, and it is led by Tourism Industry Aotearoa.

TRENZ is receiving $2 million for their annual expo and to support its evolution moving into a post COVID-19 landscape.

Tourism Recovery Ministers have agreed for Regional Events Fund funding to be used to support TRENZ in 2021. Tourism Recovery Ministers are yet to make decisions on whether to provide financial support to TRENZ for future years.

Tourism New Zealand will be working in partnership with Tourism Industry Aotearoa to support and evolve TRENZ for the future.

Next steps

Lead Entities are developing the Regional Investment Plan with their Event Investment Panels.

Regional Investment Plans can be returned to any time from 20 October 2020 to 1 December 2020.

MBIE and RTNZ will confirm that the Investment Plans meet the criteria and then MBIE will enter into a funding agreement with the Lead Entity.

RTO eligibility

References to RTOs above apply to Regional Tourism Organisations who as of 1 July 2020 are official members of Regional Tourism New Zealand RTNZ (Incorporated Society).

Further information

Please contact for further information on the regional events fund.

Last updated: 08 October 2020