Fight-back over funding cut

The proposed new i-Site - but does it look like $4 million? Supplied photo.

Tauranga City Council's decision to drastically cut back the money allocated for the new Mount i-Site is being challenged by Tourism Bay of Plenty, which is succeeding in bringing the issue back for debate by the council.

City councillors chopped the $4 million allocated in the draft annual plan down to $2.5m by a narrow 6:5 vote.

At Tuesday's city council meeting Tourism Bay of Plenty chairman Des Hammond told councillors that if there is not a future-proof, fit-for-purpose i-Site provided, then Tourism Bay of Plenty will be reviewing its decision to lease a building that will not be fit for purpose.

Tourism Bay of Plenty is a Tauranga City Council Controlled Organisation. Des told councillors that the information obtained by TBOP, which was the basis on which the designs and costing were based and passed on to council, was also the basis on which the original $4 million was agreed to by the city councillors, and included in the draft annual plan.

There was no way he could see the council building anything sufficient for the required purpose for $2.5 million, says Des.

They need a facility large enough to cater for several thousand cruise ship passengers all wanting to get off the wharf at once. They need to be dealt with effectively, quickly and they need to be sold on Tauranga, according to Des.

All of the research supported a fit-for-purpose future-proofed option, a visitor centre that is big enough to be able to handle the expected growing numbers of tourists off the cruise ships.

Expecting Tourism Bay of Plenty to make up the missing $1.5 million will also not work, says Des. They are not professional fundraisers. Nor will reducing the size, to make it cheaper, as that will make it no longer fit for purpose. He appreciated the thought, but the $4 million build was already a compromise.

Tourism BOP has invested $120,000 obtaining expert advice on the project, and accepts the advice of the experts.

“And we are asking council to do the same thing,” says Des.

It will require a notice of motion to bring the issue back to council.

The vote to reduce the amount was 6:5. Mayor Greg Brownless, Rick Curach, Bill Grainger, Gail McIntosh, Steve Morris, and Catherine Stewart voted to reduce the funding from $4 million to $2.5 million.

Greg says after this week's meeting he is having a close look at all the material presented by Tourism Bay of Plenty to the city council.

“They are also saying that currently they spend $300,000 a year on the i-Port, getting that all set up,” says Greg. “If you look at that, it perhaps makes more sense to do this other one.

“I'm still keen to keep the price as low as possible but without sacrificing anything that would be stupid to do.

“They feel that the $4 million we went out for consultation on is essential to get that size and functionality.

“So they say it's not just a visitor information centre it is the i-Port which will be on land. So they will be saving money by not having to do the i-Port as well. It is an i-Port as well and therefore we may as well do this up to full spec.

“I can see the point if they are going to have a visitor information centre there it may as well cater for the cruise ship passengers as well. I do take on board their point they all get off the ship at once so suddenly you have got potentially hundreds of people in there. Something of that current size wouldn't cope.

“I'm prepared to look at those figures again.”

Instead of stating the requirement is a $4m centre, another approach may be to see if someone can come up with a design that meets the requirements without costing the full $5 million, says Greg.

“Design and build that could be part of it.”

He also wants to see the direct beneficiaries of the new i-Site, such as tourism businesses, free up their wallets a bit.

“But I don't see too much sign of that. And I know there's a trickle-down theory and there are those who do make money, and I would like to see them step forward.”


Control of $$$

Posted on 26-06-2017 15:18 | By AndyCap

My take is that this will end up being a purpose built ticketing and retail sales office for TBOP with possible sub letting. TBOP want this building in its full glory rely badly so they can control the flow of cruise ship passengers dollars and clip the ticket on the way through. Quite correctso many of the day tours and activities that cruise passengers do are mostly not even in Tauranga. Good observation about the retail sales > everything from post cards to clothing. A problem as TBOP will set up as opposition to retailers in the Mount Mainstreet with a captive market > filing their own coffers. It has to be about a general public information site and not cruise passengers. Port of Tauranga are responsible for the cruise ships and passengers, and they did not want any part of it.

Why always the Tauranga ratepayers?

Posted on 25-06-2017 20:20 | By NZAdventurer

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council should be the ones funding all TBOP'S wants, including the mount ISITE. TBOP are on record stating that Tauranga is an incidental destination with 65% of visitors being day trippers, yet it is the Tauranga ratepayers that have to fork out 100% of these new building costs. What are Rotorua, Whakatane, Matamata, Waihi, Te Puke & Katikati paying towards this building? Who will pay for all the staff, running costs and maintenance or will TBOP want more funding from Tauranga ratepayers for this too. Tauranga is getting a raw deal from all this and Mr. Hammond should take his pressing concerns to other parts of Bay of Plenty not Tauranga. Tauranga ratepayers should not be the only ones paying for TBOP'S demands for a fancy new Mount ISITE that mostly serves other areas.


Posted on 23-06-2017 19:49 | By Papamoaner

I'm avoiding this debate due to sufficient knowledge to contribute. But I'm instinctively not in favour. That aside, I keep hearing people say Rotorua is the main beneficiary of cruise ship visits, as you just have. It doesn't have to be like that. Rotorua has geysers, but we have potential too if we can get off our arses and embrace it. We need to invest in attractive culture. That includes being truthful about our history with dignified shame where appropriate. Some prominent battles were fought, and ought not to be swept under the mat. A cleverly designed and built interactive museum could be a sensation if kept authentic. We lose no face by displaying "this is where we went wrong" alongside "this is where we went right" The current establishment being debated here doesn't address much of substance.

Please excuse me for asking.......

Posted on 23-06-2017 14:29 | By Babs

Mr. Hammond, but is anyone at Tourism Bay of Plenty actually interested in providing any kind of information service to walk in visitors and the Bay of Plenty & Mount community, because it does not sound like it from this? Everything sounds like it is focused on selling services to cruise ship passengers. Mount traders need to remember that this building will no doubt also take away business from them with the sale of souvenirs and other goods in a building that they have contributed towards. Well done to some in council for finally tightening the screws on this hapless organisation. Just days ago the $60k+ on a diabolical change of logo and now they are back at the table wanting even more money for their own palace. Perhaps the Rotorua RTO would be interested in leasing the new Mount information site?

More Money

Posted on 23-06-2017 09:58 | By phoenix

Show these,I want more money plonkers the door.


Posted on 23-06-2017 08:24 | By Watcher 1

NOT even 2,5 million should be allocated to this from solely TCC Ratepayers. Councillors and Tourism Tauranga MUST look at the areas of benefit from ANY spend as the majority of Cruise Ship passengers head to Rotorua or Matamata. The BOP REGIONAL COUNCIL should be covering the total cost as their area covers the majority of the areas benefiting from Cruise Ships plus, they own the Port and the lands surrounding. Maybe convert an existing cargo shed to a dual purpose role just like the majority of other Cruise Ship Ports have done or place 40 foot Containers parallel to each other with one side open to allow market shops with a curved covered roof over, a lot of Ports use this method for the Cruise Season but remove it for the majority of the year, NOT a $4 million cost to ratepayers the Tourism Tauranga wants.


Posted on 22-06-2017 22:26 | By Raewyn

I think Two and a half hundred thousand is ample to build the building without any other money from any other source/ Too many committee's eager to spend Ratepayers money!

$2.5 million

Posted on 22-06-2017 21:09 | By chatter

How many staff ? is ths new i-site proposed to house, and how often are the "masses" of tourists going to visit/use the premises ?The Tauranga i-site seems to do perfectly well with it current location & size. Just imagine how many 'modest' family home & land packages $2.5 M could buy & how many people those homes could accomodate...Get real Mr Hammond

Here come the ultimatums & bully tactics

Posted on 22-06-2017 19:58 | By GT in Bay of Plenty

I do hope readers are taking note of the way Tourism Bay of Plenty are presenting their latest pitch for a bigger and better isite. This type of attitude is just what so many tour operators and tourism businesses throughout Bay of Plenty continue to deal with on a daily basis. Its all about TBOP and doing everything the way they wish things to be done, or else. Here we have the TBOP Chairman suggesting that if they do not get what they want, they may not be interested anymore. Send them to their room with no warm milk or cookie, Mr Mayor. Good on you to those that voted against more funding. To Des Hammond, review all you want but please do Bay of Plenty a service and start with an immediate rebrand of your rebrand!!!!


Posted on 22-06-2017 19:17 | By waiknot

You to have struck TBOP monopoly method of competition. I wish I could run my business by getting others to fund a system that also blocks any competition.


Posted on 22-06-2017 17:47 | By overit

Let Tourism BOP go and lease a building somewhere else. Having been on a cruise, most passengers book their excertions on the boat. If they only have 10hrs in port (approx) they want to be on a bus and gone. The ones using the i-site will be the ones who have no plans and want to fill in the day here. Most go to Rotorua and Matamata. Good old wishy washy Mayor. I like the new look i-site. Someone is benefiting from all of this and it isn't ratepayers per say.

Nothing TBOP does is future proof!

Posted on 22-06-2017 17:25 | By Angela (Mt Maunganui)

Of almost forty comments on Sunlive about the recent TBOP new look rebrand, only one is positive with all others saying that TBOP have wasted money and done a poor job. Now TBOP come cap in hand for more money for a bigger building that they will no doubt operate with an iron fist to maximise their own revenue streams and selectively support their chosen tourism businesses. Just like the I Port dramas past. This has stifled fair competition and growth in the offerings to passengers. As mentioned on another article, why doesnt TBOP raise the extra capital with a good old-fashioned bank loan that they themselves can budget for and repay from their substantial council funding. Sorry Des but too many of us have travelled this road before, so its a NO from me!


Posted on 22-06-2017 17:03 | By waiknot

Did I read this right? "At Tuesday's city council meeting Tourism Bay of Plenty chairman Des Hammond told councillors that if there is not a future-proof, fit-for-purpose i-Site provided, then Tourism Bay of Plenty will be reviewing its decision to lease a building that will not be fit for purpose." This sounds like he is giving the council an ultimatum. Give him the short shift the upstart. As an aside, Rotorua is the major beneficiary of the cruise ship visits. If the $5m meet and greet venue is as important as being suggested I'm sure Rotorua authorities will contribute.

i site

Posted on 22-06-2017 16:59 | By dumbkof2

sounds like tourism bop having a little tanty. if i cant get my way will have a tantrum

You've got to be joking.

Posted on 22-06-2017 16:17 | By penguin

So, Tourism BOP wants more money despite having already wasted $60,000 on the new child-like logo. They dont deserve anything!


Posted on 22-06-2017 15:19 | By surfsup

As a ratepayer I struggle with the cost of $4 million for a building that will house exactly what??. Tauranga unlike Rotorua or Taupo doesn't have a lot of what you could call outstanding tourist attractions with the exception of the beach and obviously the Mount itself, both of which can be easily found. So what is the new building going to do , if somebody from the Tourism sector or the council could actually spell out why we did to spend this money then I may listen , until then all I can see is ego driven people wanting a flash building to work in.

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