Twenty Auckland Council staff are set to lose their jobs when five visitor information centres are closed as the result of a cost-cutting directive from Mayor Len Brown.
The council body, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed), yesterday announced plans to close five loss-making i-SITES at Orewa, Takapuna, Kumeu, Pukekohe and Bombay.
The closures will cancel a $700,000 loss by the five i-SITES visitor information centres. Another seven i-SITES are performing well or holding their own.
Ateed chief executive Brett O'Riley said it was difficult to justify the $2.7 million that the five i-SITES were expected to lose over the next four years, particularly in the current economic climate.
He said Ateed would be discussing the proposal with the 20 affected fulltime and part-time staff over the next fortnight. A final decision would be made on November 9.
Mr O'Riley said there were opportunities with local board and tourism operators for alternative ways of getting information to visitors and to promote local areas.
But he said the reality was the tourism market was changing. More people were accessing information through the internet and i-SITE use was down 27 per cent in the past two years.
Franklin Local Board chairman Andy Baker, whose area is set to lose i-SITES at Bombay and Pukekohe, said he was disappointed for the staff who put in a huge effort to promote the burgeoning tourism sector in Franklin. "But I'm aware times are tough and we can't be supporting things that are sucking great wads of ratepayers' money."
The move follows a directive from Mr Brown for council bodies to find savings to reduce next year's rates increase to well below 4 per cent.
Orewa, Takapuna, Kumeu, Pukekohe, Bombay
Auckland Airport (international), Auckland Airport (domestic), SkyCity, Princes Wharf, Waiheke Island, Warkworth, Devonport.