Council seeks review of tourism body

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:27 01/12/2012

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The wheels are in motion for a review of Nelson Tasman Tourism (NTT), following one of its shareholders' promises of an evaluation of tourism spending before the end of this financial year.

The Tasman District Council, which is a joint shareholder with the Nelson City Council in the company that oversees the region's tourism promotions, would instruct an independent organisation to carry out the review, Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said.

The item was discussed in the confidential section of a recent joint shareholders committee meeting, along with a review of i-Sites in the region and marketing strategies.

Mr Kempthorne said he expected that a review would be under way in the next month or two. The matter was discussed in private because Tasman needed to have the discussion with Nelson city to find out if it wanted to be part of the review.

The councils jointly fund NTT, which promotes the region and subsidises local information centres (i-Sites), by more than $400,000 each per year. A portion of NTT's income also comes from the tourism sector via levies, which last year came to $400,000.

This year the TDC introduced a flat rate of $23.55 per ratepayer to help fund its share of the commitment, as opposed to a targeted tourism rate.

Tasman councillors signalled a plan earlier this year to cut tourism promotion funding. The TDC planned to make a staged exit from its annual $422,236 commitment to NTT, which riled the NCC.

Tasman Deputy Mayor Tim King said at the time the review was not about "rearranging the deckchairs, but reviewing the financing of tourism by ratepayers".

At the time Tasman announced it was planning the review, Nelson Deputy Mayor Ali Boswijk said the NCC could not afford to take on the burden of funding NTT alone. However, she agreed that it could be an opportunity to look at alternatives for economic development, with tourism as a key driver.

Mr Kempthorne said the TDC was seeking external input into how it might fund tourism, and to give it more tools to make decisions on how this might happen.

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- The Nelson Mail

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