Tauranga's $612k tourism cash boost
An approval of more than $600,000 for Tourism Bay of Plenty has been labelled a “sea change” for the industry.
Tauranga City Council voted yesterday in favour of funding the organisation $612,000 over the next 10 years as part of the council’s Long Term Plan.
The decision was approved by most councillors, with one saying experiences were needed to be created and there was not enough to do in the district. Only Steve Morris and Catherine Stewart objected to the move.
Tourism Bay of Plenty will now become the first region outside Auckland to become a Destination Management Organisation. Meaning, it now has the ability to shift the focus of the organisation from not just attracting visitors to the Bay area but to better manage visitor stays while they are here.
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said the move was “a sea change” for the industry and believed the decision would be watched with interest from industry officials throughout New Zealand.
“So far, we’ve been very demand focused (getting visitors here). Now it’s about ‘how do we manage their experience while they are here and make sure it’s working for our community and local businesses’,” Dunne said.
“This is our place too, our community and we all love it. We want to share that love with the world but to the betterment of our community, not against it.”
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne says the Tauranga City Council decision to fund it $612,000 is “amazing” and will enable the organsation to do much more.
The funding would help cover three new positions and allow for tourism research and analysis of how best to have visitors stay longer and spend more.
Dunne said the first few years would consist of establishing the building blocks of the plan and would likely be in a position for review after three years.
Commercial ratepayers currently fund the organisation but the additional $612,000 will be funded from Tauranga Airport activity for its first year. The council will explore other funding options for the other nine years.
Several councillors discussed concern at where the money would come from with John Robson saying “we have to stop treating the commercial community as a cash cow”.
Leanne Brown said she understood the business community potentially having reservations about the funding “but we need to accept that there’s not enough to do here”.
“We need to create great experiences for those who are visitors as well as locals. It’s a step change for the tourism sector. All eyes are on us.”
Tourism New Zealand’s Stephen England-Hall said the move toward destination management was a positive one and it would prioritise working with Tourism Bay of Plenty as a result of the decision.
Regional Tourism New Zealand executive officer Charlie Ives said it would also strongly support Tourism Bay of Plenty’s transformation into a destination management organisation.