Plan to close five Auckland i-Site centres

STEVE HOPKINS
Last updated 10:35 24/10/2012

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Visitor information centres in Takapuna, Orewa, Kumeu, Pukekohe and Bombay will close under a cost-cutting plan that could result in 20 job losses.

Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development yesterday announced a plan to restructure its i-Site visitor centres after reviewing the 12 centres it inherited from former legacy councils two years ago.

ATEED chief executive Brett O'Riley four of the 12 - two at the airport plus centres at Sky City and Princes Wharf - were performing well and accounted for the bulk of visitors, and others at Waiheke Island, Warkworth and Devonport were ''holding their own''.

The remaining five were struggling and there was little prospect things would improve for them, O'Riley said.

Those centres would cost $2.7 million to run over the next four years. 

ATEED would discuss the proposal with the 20 affected i-Site staff over the next fortnight and try to find them jobs within the organisation and Auckland Council. 

A final decision on the fate of the centres will be announced on November 9.

O'Riley said further discussions would be had with local boards and tourism operators about alternative ways to inform visitors and promote the area.

"We know that well-informed visitors tend to stay longer and spend more when they are here, so getting them the information they need in a way that suits the current market is vital to transforming Auckland from a gateway to a destination," O'Riley said. 

"The tourism market is changing rapidly, both in terms of the mix of visitors and in terms of the ways they access information before they leave home and when they are here in the region.''

According to a Tourism New Zealand survey, i-Site use has dropped 27 per cent in the past two years as visitors increasingly rely on smart phones and iPads to get information.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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