Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne is welcoming the city council's approval of $4 million for a new i-Site in Mount Maunganui's Coronation Park.
The council has approved the ‘medium option', $4,026,000 for a visitor information centre with about 330m2 of enclosed space and a further 480m2 of semi-enclosed space.
The council is not funding the ‘iconic roof' which will cost an addition $1 million, with councillors suggesting this week that it be paid for by industry participants who actually make money out of the growing cruise ship tourism market.
“From a Tourism Bay of Plenty perspective we are really pleased with the result today and we feel this is critical for the industry and we are looking forward to consulting with the community on the details around this project, and today marks the first step of that. It is really the beginning,” says Kristin.
“I hope the result will be a really beautiful building that we can all be proud of.
“We are really pleased for the industry and I think our tourism industry and all of the industries should feel really encouraged.”
Kristin believes the additional $1 million for the iconic roof will be found.
The city council is going to consult with the public about the options.
Bill Grainger's suggestion the council seriously look at taking over part of the Mount Ocean Sports Club at the end of Salisbury Avenue didn't get traction, with one of the factors being the congestion that Salisbury Avenue already faces – apart from the fact the club is not council property.
Tourism spending in Tauranga is estimated to be $713 million for the year ending December 2016, an increase of $65 million over the $648 million estimated visitor spending in 2015.
Regionally, tourists are estimated to have spent $933 million in the year ending December 2016.
The fastest growing segment is the international visitor market – cruise ship passengers disembarking at Mount Maunganui.
Tauranga City Council's supports Tourism Bay of Plenty to the tune of $1.4 million, compared to the Rotorua District Council's $3.9 million.
The Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Whakatane District Council pay $190,000 and $84,000 annually.
Visitor information centres are considered loss leaders in that they themselves do not run at a profit. But economic analysis finds more than 40 per cent of international visitors use them and that 59 per cent of those spend more in the area as a result - on average $1000 more.
Bay of Plenty visitor expenditure in 2016 averaged approximately $2.5 million per day. The total cost of delivering an ‘iconic' visitor information centre would equate to less than two days of regional visitor expenditure.
The decision to fund the project will be included in the 2017/18 Annual Plan, with construction expected to start March 2018 and be finished in time for the following holiday/cruise ship season in October 2018, meaning costs will be spread over both the 2017/18 and 2018/19 Annual Plans.