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Businesses value i-SITE

CARYN WIGMORE
Last updated 05:00 15/11/2012

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The doomed Kumeu i-SITE could be saved from the axe.

A temporary reprieve has been granted to the loss making visitor information centre as businesses seek ways to keep it open.

The Kumeu Coast and County business association has set up a working group of stakeholders in a bid to save the Main Rd centre.

Members of the group will liaise with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) with possible solutions.

Ateed earlier announced plans to shut five i-SITES including the Kumeu centre, citing low use and losing money.

But the council body has agreed to delay a final decision on the Main Rd site after meetings with the business association.

"ATEED has given us an assurance they won't just shut us down," Mr Pirrie says.

Phelan Pirrie, who chairs the business association, welcomes the "temporary stay of execution". "Their intention is the staff will finish up mid-December but the i-SITE lease goes through to May," Mr Pirrie says.

"They've talked about leaving the i-SITE unmanned or with volunteers I guess."

He says the working group has until May to find a permanent solution to cancel the loss.

Meanwhile ATEED communications manager Charmaine Ngarimu says the Kumeu i-SITE handled tourism bookings of $5181 this year.

"It is difficult to determine how much of the gross bookings total was for local tourism operators. However, experience suggests the bulk of such bookings are for transport, accommodation and events outside the local area."

Mr Pirrie disagrees with the criteria.

"The difficulty is they make decisions from accommodation bookings but we don't have any accommodation out here.

"That's the fatal flaw in this particular model. They're not looking at the benefits it gives to the business community and to the wider community in providing information to people."

He's hopeful the i-SITE can be saved in a different form.

It could be changed from a booking centre into a wider information site and it could be shared by different organisations.

The working group plans to meet ATEED during the next few weeks.

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- Norwest News

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