Busy wharf sparks changes for tour operators

By Graham Skellern

Activity on the wharf will be more controlled when cruise ship passengers disembark at Mount Maunganui during the latest season, which starts on October 2.

Early arrangements had to be changed when the kiwifruit shipments were extended - and because of security reasons local tourist operators, wanting to sell tours to the passengers, will no longer be allowed on the wharf. Instead, their tours will be sold through the i-SITE kiosk positioned near the main gate on to Salisbury Ave and operated by Tourism Bay of Plenty staff.

The tours promoted by the i-SITE must have a Qualmark rating and the local operators can wait outside the gate to pick up further business.

"We want to deliver a quality visitor experience to the passengers, and everyone has agreed to work together as a group," Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Glenn Ormsby said.

"We have good support from New Zealand Transport Agency and the police and we are working through the best way to control the situation outside the gate."

Passengers who have pre-booked tours on the ships will head straight for the coaches waiting on the wharf and leave through the Rata St gate.

Other passengers will be greeted by local cruise ship ambassadors and directed to the i-SITE and Salisbury Ave.

Originally, Tourism Bay of Plenty had been planning to use the No1 cargo shed at the northern end of the wharf as an innovative expo or i-SITE. Up to 30 local operators would have been set up in the shed to promote and sell their tours.

Tourism Bay of Plenty was told that the No1 shed was now needed for kiwifruit storage, and transfers to chartered vessels, through to late November and it was required again in March.

The cruise season - bringing 82 ships and up to 184,000 passengers and crew - runs from October through to early April.

Mr Ormsby said activity around the wharf would be congested with the loading of kiwifruit. It was a working wharf and could be a dangerous area. "We've told the operators we can't use the shed and the i-SITE is back on the wharf."

As many as 10 staff will run the i-SITE on the busy cruise ship days.

Get a copy of today's Bay of Plenty Times Weekend for the ever popular cut out and keep cruise ship guide.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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