Mount Mainstreet manager Ingrid Fleming wants councillors to reconsider their decision to cut funding for a new i-Site from $4 million to $2.5m.

Mrs Fleming said $2.5m was not enough to build a "world class" information centre the Mount deserved and it was "hugely disappointing" to have the original proposed funding dropped.

"We all know tourism drip feeds our economy. The better we do this the more the drip will turn into a flow . . . everyone wins."

Tauranga City councillors agreed to reduce the original funding approval from $4m to $2.5m towards a scaled-back Visitor Information Centre at 10 Salisbury Ave.


The onus was now on Tourism Bay of Plenty to raise an extra $1m from a government tourism infrastructure fund to enhance the building.

Mrs Fleming said it would likely not be physically possible to build an appropriate i-Site for $2.5m.

"We have a very significant opportunity for our future in tourism and we need to make the right and best decisions. Mount Mainstreet members want to be proud to send visitors to the future Bay of Plenty i-Site."

Mrs Fleming said the new i-Site design would be crucial to its success and suggested building a design that could be added to in the future.

"I pray that there will be enough in the $2.5m budget to provide enough space for tourist operators in and out of the cruise ship season."

Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless said he was not aware of any formal proposal for council to reconsider the funding amount.

"If that happens, of course councillors will have to reconsider."

Mr Brownless said $2.5m was a reasonable amount of money to fund a new i-Site.

"Some people are going to think that is not enough and some are going to think it is far too much," he said.

"We have to come up with a sensible answer. You have to look around and see what we can get for $2.5m. And there are many calls that we make to do with ratepayers' money.

"I would have thought that would have got something substantial."

Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said the "iconic" concept design presented for public consultation was costed at $5.1m. The "basic" design concept without the iconic roof was a $4m project, she said.

Tourism Bay of Plenty, supported by council, had to raise an additional $1m to help fund the iconic roof.

"While this is a large amount of money in residential building terms, this is for a commercial building that needs to stand the test of time, be future-proofed for continued tourism growth and withstand a footfall of between 250,000 to 500,000 visitors per annum," said Ms Dunne.

She said concept designs were created in partnership with iwi to ensure the visitor centre reflected history and culture.

The size of the concepted building, which was over 800sq m, allowed for community use particularly outside the cruise ship season, said Ms Dunne.

"It could have been a community amenity for community events, exhibitions, markets, etc on Coronation Park."

Tourism Bay of Plenty sells tickets on behalf of small tour operators at the i-Port outside the Port of Tauranga gates. If the build went ahead, the i-Port would no longer be required.

Port of Tauranga operations manager Phillip Julian said he was pleased to see a permanent solution for the i-Port/i-Site.

"This is probably the most spectacular pedestrian exit for cruise passengers in NZ. The new i-Site location is less than 100m away so is very accessible for those passengers who require its services."

Port of Tauranga chairman David Pilkington said he understood the council was looking at options to build a new i-Site at Coronation Park with a direct route from the port behind the police station.

"We have decided that went against health and safety given it is a high traffic area."

Mr Pilkington had not seen the new i-Site design plans and could not comment on council's decision to scale back the funding.

He said cruise ship season had gone well. "Generally we have been blessed with good weather, so that is encouraging. It seems that the cruise ship industry just keeps growing."

Mount campground to continue operating information centre alongside new i-Site

Mount Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park operates a Visitor Information Centre from its office at Adams Ave.

Manager Mark Hales said when the original i-Site closed, the campground continued to offer information to visitors.

"The reason why we started a Visitor Information Centre is because a lot of people thought we were," he said.

"We would get a lot of questions regarding what activities were available."

Mr Hales said the new i-Site would not have an affect on the campground's information centre.

"First and foremost we are a holiday park and the info centre is part of that," he said.

"We are happy to direct people to the new i-Site if they want to know where it is."