Funding fears for tourism unit


Destination Wairarapa is not broke but a potential funding cut may force the tourism organisation to make some drastic decisions, says its chairman.

At a South Wairarapa District Council meeting last week, Destination Wairarapa chairman Steve Blakemore said while the organisation was "not broke yet", funding uncertainty was having an effect on staff.

"Trust House haven't confirmed funding, and we're finding this rather difficult ... It's started to have an impact on staff morale. We want to get it sorted out," Mr Blakemore said.

Destination Wairarapa was set up five years ago after an agreement was set out between three Wairarapa district councils and Trust House Charitable Trust, which is due to be reviewed early next year.

South Wairarapa District Council has committed up to $116,000 for the next three years, Masterton District Council up to $250,000 for the next three years, and Carterton District Council slightly more than $50,000 for the next year.

Trust House Charitable Trust has committed more than $250,000 for this financial year, taking it to June 2013.

Mr Blakemore told Wairarapa Times-Age this week while Trust House Charitable Trust would not make a decision on its three-year commitment until 2013, there was an indication it would look to reduce its contribution to Destination Wairarapa by $100,000.

"The chief executive has indicated to me real concern about the increase in rates on Trust House property in Masterton, and believes local authorities should be taking a bigger share of tourism funding," Mr Blakemore said.

Destination Wairarapa has enough funding to last it until September 30, 2013, but after that would need to make some drastic decisions.

"We would have to look at staff, just when we've got a really top bunch," Mr Blakemore told councillors.

He said it would be a shame to see that happen when the organisation is doing such a great job of keeping up visitor numbers and gaining members each month.

South Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples urged Mr Blakemore to meet the three district council chief executives to ensure they were briefed on Destination Wairarapa's situation so they could advocate for them with Trust House.

Trust House chief executive Bernard Teahan told Wairarapa Times-Age it would be discussing how Destination Wairarapa funding was apportioned during the next three years with its partners in the new year.

Mr Teahan said he did not think Destination Wairarapa would be seeing a funding cut but he added: "Clearly it's a possibility, but we haven't got to that point."

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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