Tourism services to merge

Kaikoura's tourism services will be transferred from the council to Kaikoura Information Tourism Incorporated (KITI) after the council voted in favour of the move last week.

At its meeting last Wednesday, the Kaikoura District Council discussed the proposed merger, which will see the budget for council's tourism and economic development committee go to Kaikoura Tourism, which will be responsible for marketing and events management for the town.

Mayor Winston Gray said the proposal was a major change to the face of tourism and would benefit the whole of Kaikoura.

Others, however, believe this may not be the case and would have liked to see more discussion about the options first.

Despite there still being doubt over exactly how this will work and how much money will be given to Kaikoura Tourism by the council, enough councillors believed in the merger to vote in favour.

Only councillor Darlene Morgan voted against, although councillor John Diver abstained as he felt the matter should have been passed back to the tourism and development committee for discussion first as a matter of common courtesy.

He also wanted to know more about the financial implications of the move for ratepayers, something which has yet to be determined.

Councillor Stu Burrows raised concerns about council representation on the new board, which has gone from the recommended three people down to one.

Councillor Morgan said she was concerned about a number of aspects of the change, including the process which had been used to get this far.

A report compiled by Dr Dominic Moran, of Moran Tourism, which had been the catalyst for the merger, had not been adequately reviewed by the tourism committee, and there were concerns about its validity, she said.

Dr Moran had not spoken to a number of significant people, both within council and among the wider community, including the Runanga, before making his recommendations.

There had also been insufficient consultation both with council and the Runanga before the decision was made, she said, and she continued to have concerns about the economic development side of the committee, which is likely now to have its funding pulled.

Because nothing has recently been spent on economic development, it appears that the council view the committee's budget as purely for tourism, which has long been a concern for councillor Morgan.

Equally concerning, she said, was the fact that the status quo had never been compared with the new proposal, and therefore it was unclear whether the change would actually be better.

Kaikoura Star