Tourism funding bid turned down

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 09:01 10/06/2014

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The Marlborough District Council has refused to give Destination Marlborough the $200,000 funding increase it asked for.

Instead, the council has proposed a $100,000 increase to come from rates, with potentially another $100,000 to come from reserves funds if a new "super-agency" is formed to operate regional marketing, economic development, conferences, and events.

Discussion about the "super-agency" has been referred to the council's regional development and planning committee.

Destination Marlborough proposed in an additional submission to the council last week that the agencies covering tourism, regional marketing, conference promotion, events, and economic development be merged into one, to give greater unity and focus to the province's activities.

It argued fragmentation was preventing the most being made out of opportunities for Marlborough.

However, yesterday several councillors seemed to see the submission as saying the Destination Marlborough board thought it could not do its job and was arguing for it to be ended.

Councillors Jessica Bagge, Cynthia Brooks, Brian Dawson, Geoff Evans, Peter Jerram, Laressa Shenfield, and Terry Sloan argued that the uncertainty about the future of Destination Marlborough meant the council should not put so much money into it this year.

At least $100,000 should be held back until the new structure was decided, they said.

However, councillor Jamie Arbuckle argued the regional tourism operator had an important role in Marlborough and needed to be funded properly.

Councillors Graeme Barsanti, Trevor Hook, John Leggett and David Oddie agreed, saying everyone benefited from the visitors Destination Marlborough drew to the region.

Barsanti said the organisation's funding had not been increased for years.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman declined to cast a deciding vote on the motion to grant the organisation $200,000, so it was lost. An amended motion to give Destination Marlborough $100,000 was passed.

However, later in the meeting, almost half the councillors were voting to put $150,000 into a proposal to put up signs at the entrances to Blenheim, despite not knowing any details of the proposal. It was lost by one vote.

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- The Marlborough Express

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