$150k shortfall in tourism services sought

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Tourists walking through the i-Port facility. Photo/Supplied
Tourists walking through the i-Port facility. Photo/Supplied

Tauranga businesses have been asked to fund an additional $150,000 for a shortfall in visitor information centres in the city.

Today Tauranga City Councillors agreed to include several proposals on Visitor Information Services in the Draft Annual Plan 2016/17.

It follows a comprehensive review of how the council provides information services to the growing number of domestic, international and cruise visitors to Tauranga and how the council can further support the local tourism industry.

The proposals going out for public consultation include:

* Increasing yearly operational funding to Tourism Bay of Plenty by $150,000 to make up for a shortfall in funding due to increased activity, particularly at the i-PORT. This is proposed to be funded through an increase of the targeted economic development rate on commercial properties.

* To provide a one-off amount of $150,000, also funded through commercial rates, to refurbish the i-PORT in Mount Maunganui and ensure it can operate for a further two years.

The i-PORT's temporary structure services about 85,000 cruise passengers per season.

* Agreeing to look into building a new i-SITE on Salisbury Ave in the Mount and to explore the longer-term possibility of having smaller satellite i-SITEs at Phoenix Park and Tauranga City Centre, and to provide $100,000 in 2016/17 to fund design and consenting work to progress this option. This would be loan-funded and repaid through commercial rates.

No decision on funding to build a new i-SITE will be made until the viability of the proposal has been assessed.

The facts

Tourism Bay of Plenty are contracted by Tauranga City Council to provide information services to visitors to the city, primarily through the i-SITE on Willow Street and the i-PORT that welcomes cruise passengers into the city and region.

Tourism Bay of Plenty's objective is to grow total tourism spend in the region to $1 billion per year by 2030.

Tourism spend in the Bay of Plenty has grown by 14 per cent over the six years to March 2015, and 12 per cent in just the last year.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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