A bid to get $1 million of Crown funding to help create a $5m iconic visitor information centre at Mount Maunganui has been rejected.

And it has been suggested local entities should be stepping up to contribute instead of the Government.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment declined Tauranga City Council and Tourism Bay of Plenty's application for a slice of the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund.

The old information centre at Mount Maunganui on Salisbury Avenue. Photo/file
The old information centre at Mount Maunganui on Salisbury Avenue. Photo/file

In its decision, released to the Bay of Plenty Times, the Provincial Development Unit stated it felt the regional cruise gateway could be built without its help.

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Ministers were not convinced the centre would create new jobs and "it was surprising that other commercial interests in the Regional Cruise Gateway were not participating as funding partners in this project".

In June, elected council members voted 6-5 to fund $4m towards the information centre. It was hoped the extra $1m - needed to up-spec the building to an iconic status by adding a large roof - would come from the fund which was announced in February.

Jaine Lovell-Gadd, general manager of city transformation at Tauranga City Council, said they would now consider "external funding opportunities" to make the $5m centre a reality.

In a written statement, Lovell-Gadd said the $4m was sufficient to build a fit-for-purpose visitor centre, and the council was also "committed to investigating options to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety in the Salisbury Avenue area over the peak holiday period".

Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said it had since invited ministers to visit and "understand the viewpoints of this project from the multiple stakeholders involved".

Despite the reference to some entities not helping with funding, local businesses contributed to the operational running costs via commissions and other revenue ", but the actual construction of the building is another matter", Dunne said.

"This is the most critical piece of tourism infrastructure for our region, at this time," Dunne said.

The Provincial Growth Fund had received 325 applications nationally.

A ministry spokeswoman said this included 15 expressions of interest, nine applications and one express application from the Bay of Plenty.

Of these applications, five were approved, and one was declined. The rest were going through the application process, she said.

The spokeswoman would not release further details on the applications as aspects of the applications were "commercial in confidence".

A list of New Zealand's 60 successful applicants so far has been published online, including 16 bids from Northland.

In the money - Bay of Plenty's successful PGF projects

The list of successful Bay of Plenty Provincial Growth Fund applicants details Minginui Nursery, Rotorua Lakefront and Whakarewarewa Forest, plus Rail Freight Opportunities in Kawerau and Murupara. The fourth successful Bay of Plenty applicant was not listed.

Source - mbie.govt.nz

What is the Provincial Growth Fund?

The Provincial Growth Fund consists of $3b over three years. It is designed to lift productivity in the provinces. Its priorities are to enhance economic development opportunities, create sustainable jobs, enable Māori to reach full potential, boost social inclusion and participation, build resilient communities, and help meet New Zealand's climate change targets.

Source - mbie.govt.nz

Current tourist welcoming facilities 'just fine' - local

Mount Maunganui's Trevor Clist lives just 300m from where cruise ship passengers arrive near Salisbury Wharf and thinks the welcoming facilities need little improvement. Photo/John Borren
Mount Maunganui's Trevor Clist lives just 300m from where cruise ship passengers arrive near Salisbury Wharf and thinks the welcoming facilities need little improvement. Photo/John Borren

Mount Maunganui's Trevor Clist lives just 300m from where cruise ship passengers arrive at Salisbury Wharf. He and his wife often watch and talk to passengers, and he believes the welcoming facilities need little improvement.

" It doesn't need millions of dollars spent on it," he said.

"My wife and I have been cruising over the past few years. We've been to Alaska, the Mediterranian, Panama Canal, and Florida and those places have three to four times the numbers of cruise ships and some of those places have little fishermen's wharves. It's often not flash, and it copes with the travellers perfectly well."

Clist said while a visitor information centre was needed for Tauranga, it should be more generic and not centred on cruise ship passengers who only arrive for part of the year.

"Cruise ship passengers don't want to be funnelled through like sheep through a drafting race," he said.

Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said this week she had serious health and safety concerns at the surges of foot and vehicle traffic in the area during cruise season.

Councillor Catherine Stewart agreed, saying she worked as a cruise ship ambassador for 10 years when buses used to be allowed on the wharf but now traffic outside the gates was causing havoc.

Stewart supported a cruise gateway at Coronation Park.