Focus stays on i-Site

The Te Awamutu and Cambridge i-Sites will continue to receive funding from Waipā District Council for another 18 months but will have to define their promotional roles to avoid clashing with Hamilton and Waikato Tourism.

That clash in some promotional spaces and a desire by councillors to see what value they were getting out of their tourism investments were highlighted in a report to the council’s Service Delivery committee this week.

Council’s contribution to i-Site delivery is $138,280 a year per site while it contributes $150,000 a year to the Waikato tourism organisation.

Tourism New Zealand had already started its own national review of its i-Site model when Waipā commissioned its own earlier this year.

Rob MacIntyre of Destination Planning Ltd was asked to investigate whether the model in Cambridge and Te Awamutu was the most efficient and cost-effective way to provide a visitor information service.

While the report was included in the Service Delivery committee for discussion this week, there was very little debate. Councillors held a confidential workshop earlier in the month.

Te Awamutu Community Public Relations Organisation and Destination Cambridge are charitable trust boards which run the i-Sites in Gorst Avenue and the Cambridge Town Hall.

At the confidential workshop, councillors reviewed the council’s external funding commitments and noted the spend on tourism was high compared to its investment in other social, economic and cultural sectors.

They want to use the 18 months to determine the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the current arrangements.

Both i-Sites have seen a decline in business during Covid-19 as international and domestic tourism opportunities dried up.

The review was undertaken by Rob MacIntyre of Destination Planning Limited and asked: “Is this the most efficient and cost-effective way to provide a visitor information service?”

McIntyre said with some of the promotion functions, it was not clear what the boundaries of responsibility were between Hamilton and Waikato Tourism and the two i-Sites.

“Many activities are a team effort. However, the results are sometimes reported as if only one of the supporting organisations was responsible for delivering the outcome.

“When organisations are seeking funding from the same council or councils, this can create competitive tension and erode trust,” said MacIntyre in his review.

While there had been some great progress and collaboration between Hamilton and Waikato Tourism and the i-Sites, there was room for improvement, he said.

“The domain of tourism business capability and capacity building has become a very crowded space over the last year. Waipā District Council is supporting multiple organisations to deliver.”

MacIntyre recommended a review of the Waipā district marketing campaign saying marketing the district as a destination without referencing the towns or key attractions, would not be understood by the visitor market outside Waikato.

The Te Awamutu i-Site will move in the future to Te Ara Wai, the new Te Awamutu Museum while MacIntyre recommended the Cambridge i-Site should remain in the Town Hall despite concerns about its presentation.

  • Councillors Roger Gordon and Philip Coles declared conflicts of interest because of their roles on Destination Cambridge.

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