Glenn Ormsby, an experienced and well known tourism manager, is today leaving his job running Tourism Bay of Plenty in a move that has surprised many operators in the industry.
Mr Ormsby has been the interim general manager of the coastal Bay regional tourism organisation for the past 16 months - after initially signing a four-month contract and then having it lengthened a year.
He reached the shortlist when the general manager's role was advertised but was overlooked last month. Mr Ormsby is now looking elsewhere after 25 years in the industry.
The new Tourism BOP general manager Rhys Arrowsmith, who was the business development manager for Rotorua International Airport, starts tomorrow.
During his time at Tourism BOP, Mr Ormsby helped develop new tourism products, stepped up cruise ship sales for local tours, and formed the Tourism Advisory Group (TAG) to bring local operators together and develop new business initiatives.
Robbie Neilson, Tourism BOP vice-chairman, said the general manager's job was always going to be advertised - it got delayed because of the Rena grounding.
He said the board was happy with the process and signed off on the appointment.
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said he understood Mr Ormsby had some grievance, but "I'm not going to step into that debate at all".
In a media release, Tourism BOP said Mr Arrowsmith headed off a strong field of contenders for the general manager's role and brings 15 years of commercial and industry experience. "We are confident he can pick up the reins quickly, make good use of his industry contacts and strengthen Tourism BOP's position nationally."
It added that Mr Ormsby did a fantastic job managing the business throughout especially difficult times, including the Rena grounding.
Former general manager of Tourism Waitaki North Otago and Tourism Whitsundays Queensland, Mr Ormsby promoted new tourist activities such as the Katikati Cuisine food trail and Matakana Experience.
Gross sales to passengers and crews at the i-SITE on the wharf increased 180 per cent this season, with revenue nearing $1 million on the back of a 30 per cent increase in cruise ship visits.
Mr Ormsby also pushed for a regional events strategy and a new pool of funding, and involved organisations such as Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, Sport Bay of Plenty, Priority One, Creative Tauranga, and the city council including Tauranga City Aquatics (TCAL) and Tauranga City Venues (TCVL).
The group has reached the stage of employing a person to complete a business plan with the aim of establishing a trust to hold money earmarked for events in the region.
Lloyd Stone, president of Tauranga Motel Association and a member of TAG, said he was very surprised Mr Ormsby wasn't retained as general manager.
"I think he did a bloody good job, but obviously the powers-to-be had other agendas," he said.
"It was Glenn's initiative to start TAG and people were coming together on a regular basis and talking about ideas for promoting Tauranga."
Andrew Gormlie, Classic Flyers NZ chief executive, said TAG was making some positive moves.
"I don't know whether Glenn had a chance to run long enough and consolidate some of the initiatives he had in place.
"Personally, I thought he was a shoo-in [for the job]."
Graeme McKenzie, a director of Spring Loaded Fun Park and Aerius Helicopters, said Mr Ormsby did a good job with limited resources. But when his contract ended, the Tourism BOP board needed to look at all the options and see what CVs came in.
Mr Arrowsmith, who commuted to Rotorua from Tauranga, worked at the airport for three years and was involved in promoting the Central North Island brand in Australia.
The campaign particularly targeted skiers, mountain bikers and trout fishers who could fly directly from Sydney to Rotorua.
He was also Australasian agent for conference organiser and travel industry networker Pure Life Experiences, a business consultant with Chevron and manager of Black Label Retreats.