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Current as of 28/04/17 08:40AM NZST

Watch NZH Local Focus: New i-site promotes new collaborations in Tauranga

By Jaden McLeod

A new i-site is on it's way to the Bay.

Tauranga City councillors voted 10-1, in favour of a new project to build a state-of-the-art visitors information centre in Mount Maunganui.

"The vast majority of tourists and visitors coming to Tauranga, come past Mount Maunganui, and interact with the activities in the area. So it is a far better location to suit that, it also is aligned with the Port of Tauranga, and where the cruise ship passengers come visit as well."

The site will cost ratepayers and tourism operators $5 million dollars.

Bay of Plenty tourism brings in 933 million annually, and Cr Mason says it is important to have a high-quality i-site to promote the region.

"We want to have buildings in Tauranga that people all over New Zealand can look at and say that is Tauranga. If it is appealing, good quality and the services are of a high nature, it adds to the service that the visitors get, while also being used by the wider community."

Venture Centre director Jo Allum works with entrepreneurs wanting to develop their own digital businesses.

She's excited about the prospect of working with Tauranga City Council to create tourism apps to run alongside the i-site.

"They have funded a digital enablement plan, just last year, it was in the annual plan. We are starting to roll that out now, connecting all the pieces that are available in our community to make that entrepreneurship happen and make it easier for people of all ages to launch digital businesses that include apps."

But Cr Mason and Tourism Bay of Plenty CEO Kristin Dunne say the statistics show that people still prefer traditional i-site support over digital applications while travelling.

"Visitor centres are proven to be really important to the visitor economy. They help to increase visitor spend, yield and the dispersal of spend across our region. An informed tourist is one that is able to know what there is to see, do, where to eat, where to stay. That's a really important factor in them deciding how long they spend in a region."

Ms Dunne says traditional i-sites and digital applications are all part of the tourism process.

The new i-site is expected to open it's doors to tourists in the next two years.

- NZ Herald

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