Rotorua Weekender: A year on from Election 2014
It seems hard to believe, but last Sunday was one year since the 2014 election. I remain both humbled and grateful for the support I received to be re-elected as the Rotorua electorate's Member of Parliament for a third term. It’s been a busy 12 months and, locally, a number of important announcements have signalled good news for growth in our region.
Many of you will have taken your first drive along the brand new, $450 million Tauranga Eastern Link Road from Paengaroa to Mt Maunganui. Recently, whilst on my way to meet a flight to Wellington, I was very grateful for the saving of 15 minutes’ drive time to the airport. More importantly, the project means Rotorua is closer to one of New Zealand’s busiest ports. This makes it easier for exporters to choose Rotorua when deciding where to set up their business, and increases the chances of more investment and jobs in our district.
Our economy will be further boosted thanks to investment in local broadband. Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) mean families and businesses can stay connected faster and more easily. It also means local businesses can move sales and bookings online, especially advantageous for tourism operators looking to attract people from overseas.
The tourism industry is important - it’s our largest earner locally. The local industry has been performing well and has seen record visitor numbers. They've also received substantial government investment over the past 12 months. In February this year, the Prime Minister was in town to announce a $350,000 cash grant from the Tourism Growth Partnership fund to explore options to develop a five star spa and hotel complex. This was in addition to the $645,000 received last year for upgrades to the Skyline Gravity Park and to secure the Crankworx mountain bike festival.
We also delivered on key promises from the election through the Budget in May this year. In particular, we made visits to the doctor and subsequent prescriptions free for children 13 years and under. This means around 17,000 children in Rotorua will now be able to head to the doctor without their parents having to worry about the cost.
It’s been a busy year, both locally and nationally. Rotorua has seen new investment and increased economic activity. It is not surprising the feeling around town is optimistic and positive.
PS. To our South African friends we feel your pain - but Go the All Blacks.