New plan could lure events

By John Cousins


Tauranga's economy could be boosted by a $2 million private/public partnership to attract more big events to the city.

Mayor Stuart Crosby has backed moves to improve the ad hoc way that Tauranga funded major events in a bid to get a better bang for the buck.

"We need to lift our game," the mayor said.

The need for a major events trust was first mooted by Tourism Bay of Plenty's former general manager Glenn Ormsby after the city failed to fully capitalise on the 2011 Rugby World Cup. It led to Tauranga's economic development agencies combining with Sport Bay of Plenty and Baypark's management to create a business case for a trust to bid for new events.

Mr Crosby said the organisation had the potential to make a big difference to how events were supported: "It is a quick way to revitalise the city and help build the economy."

The plan could see the council's annual $220,000 events budget combined with money already being spent on events by the corporate sector, private individuals, pub charities and community funders such as TECT.

Mr Crosby said combining funds would result in more cohesive decision-making; build the funding pool and attract events.

He said that up to $2 million should be achievable at the outset although the option would remain for funders to continue to do their own thing, such as the Port of Tauranga's sponsorship of the Half Ironman.

"There is a lot of money out there but it is being managed in an ad hoc way," Mr Crosby said.

The plan would harness the ASB Arena at Baypark and The Stand waterfront to help the city proactively compete with the likes of Rotorua and Taupo. The proposed new hotel on Durham St also fitted the strategy.

The council had not increased its cash contributions to events for 10 years, with nearly all the money going on flagship events such as the Jazz Festival, AIMS Games and Arts Festival. Mr Crosby said the events bid-funding policy was out of date and there was an opportunity for the council to gradually increase its funding each year. He stressed that it was still a concept and would come back as a report to the council in August or September.

TECT chairman Michael Cooney said trustees would be reluctant to put the $500,000 it distributed to community events into a fund administered by someone else: "We would want to maintain the decisions on where TECT spent its money."

Although he saw merit in greater co-ordination of events, Mr Cooney said the trust would have to be persuaded that there was a need for another organisation. The Bay of Plenty Times understood that the resources to manage the trust would sit with Tourism Bay of Plenty.

Bid to Boost Event Tourism in Tauranga

  • $2 million potential pool of money for events trust.

  • Protects current events and bids for new events.

  • Private and public sector involvement.

  • Capitalises on ASB Arena and downtown waterfront redevelopment.

  • Boosts the rationale for proposed internationally-branded hotel.

  • Business case for events trust to be considered by the council.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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