i-Sites to be dropped

Auckland is set to lose five i-SITEs, including one in Kumeu, as part of the region's visitor information network restructure.

The way in which tourists gather information has changed significantly following the rise in popularity of smartphones and tablet devices.

As a result, fewer people are visiting the i-SITE hubsand Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) had expected the five closing sites to lose around $2.7million over the next four years.

"Visitors are voting with their feet and their fingers and we simply must adapt and respond to the reality of the changing information needs of visitors," ATEED Chief Executive Brett O'Riley said.

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

"The latest Tourism New Zealand visitor experience survey shows significantly higher smartphone, tablet and laptop use by visitors to access information and make bookings, with laptop and iPad use up 19 per cent and smart phone use up by a staggering 65 per cent in the last year alone."

The visitor experience survey also showed that  i-SITE use was down 27% over the last two years.

ATEED is looking to develop a new commercial model for the areas affected that could potentially involve using Auckland Council assets like libraries and service centres, as well as working with the private sector.

"The new commercial model will give us a more customer-centric and flexible approach to visitor information supporting the Destination Auckland initiative, so that areas currently missing out can be better served," says Brett O'Riley.

"If we are to significantly increase visitor numbers and visitor nights and move Auckland from a gateway to a genuine destination, we need to move with the market."

The five affected i-SITEs are set to close on Friday 14 December and are located in Orewa, Kumeu, Takapuna, Bombay and Pukekohe .

(Live Matches)