A change in the mayoral vote means the original $4 million funding request for a new Mount Maunganui visitor centre is restored to the Annual Plan.
Two weeks ago councillors slashed the council contribution back to $2.5 million in a measure won by one vote.
However, Tourism BOP sought a review of the decision, wanting the original $4 million restored.
Chair of the council's city transformation committee Larry Baldock presented a notice of motion to the council seeking a review of the decision. The councillors today voted 6:5 to increase the funding back up to $4,026,000. The original vote to reduce the funding was by 5:6.
He's had “heaps of people” contacting him with all different opinions about it, says Mayor Greg Brownless, speaking outside the meeting.
“Ranging from all extremes from a tent, which is virtually what they have got now - to something far more lavish than has even been proposed.
“I don't want to prejudice the chances of Tourism Bay of Plenty getting some government funding, I just want to make sure that in the end what we get is value for money.”
Today's decision provides for funding of $500,000 in the 2017/18 Annual Plan, with half of that coming from the economic development rate and half from the general rate.
The balance of $3,526,000, with a potential funding mix of 70 per cent economic development rate and 30 per cent general rate, will be included in the draft 2018/19 Long-Term Plan. The proposed funding mix will be subject to further consultation as part of that Long-Term Plan process. This does not have an impact on the planned rates increase for next year.
“This facility will be an important part of the way visitors see our tourism business. Providing a purpose built Visitor Information Centre that is of a high quality which show our visitors the value we place on them,” says Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout.
Tourism BOP CEO Kristin Dunne says visitor and cruise numbers in Tauranga are now growing ahead of national averages and a purpose-built Visitor Information Centre will reinforce the city's reputation as a leading tourism destination.
"Tourism Bay of Plenty is looking forward to continuing to work with Tauranga City Council on this important project,” says Kristin.
“A new fit-for-purpose visitor centre will be an asset to the region and allow us to welcome and service approximately 500,000 visitors to the facility each year. With over three million visitors per annum and over 99 cruise ships forecast next season, we need a large facility that can safely and warmly welcome our guests, tell the stories of tangata whenua, promote local businesses and be pride of place for the Bay of Plenty.”
Visitors are spending $2.5 million in the Bay of Plenty region each day, says Kristin.
Chairman of the economic development and investment committee Max Mason says tourism is a crucial and rapidly growing economic sector for the Bay of Plenty and New Zealand. Visitor spending in the Bay of Plenty to February 2017 was estimated to be $939 million with an additional $40 million from the cruise industry.
"Tourism is New Zealand's largest industry which is growing rapidly and we need to future proof for growth in Tauranga,” says Max. “Many major tourism centres worldwide have high quality, multi-purpose visitor information centres and the symbol is synonymous globally. We are excited about the opportunity to now have the same in Tauranga and believe it will be a significant addition to our tourism offering.”
The council has extended the terms of reference of its Technical Advisory Group to include a review of the Visitor Centre Options Appraisal (Dec 2015) and the Jasmax concept design options along with the associated Rider Levett Bucknall estimates and Kingston Quantity Survey report, as well as any other relevant information.
“The TAG will undertake a value engineering exercise which analyses the requirements of the project for the purpose of achieving the essential functions at the lowest total costs over the life of the project,” says Larry. “At the same time, the council and Tourism BOP will continue to investigate external funding opportunities, with the intent of securing the additional funding needed to deliver the ‘iconic' Visitor Information Centre.”