Road talks 'not cloak and dagger'

A meeting between Destination Fiordland and the Te Anau Community Board to discuss the possible closure of Sandy Brown Rd in Te Anau was not "cloak and dagger stuff", the regional tourism organisation said.

Destination Fiordland manager Kate Hebblethwaite said before the meeting in Te Anau yesterday it was not closed-door but the public had been excluded.

The meeting was an opportunity to "have a chat" and work towards finding a solution for the Sandy Brown Rd issue and drive tourists into Te Anau, she said.

"The community board represents the community's interests and no decisions will be made at the meeting about the possible closure of Sandy Brown Rd," she said.

"This is not cloak-and-dagger stuff. The public would certainly be involved in any future decision process."

In August, concerns were raised in a letter released by Destination Fiordland that many tourists had a navigator in their vehicles that took them on the shortest route to Milford via Sandy Brown Rd, so they missed the township.

However, some Te Anau residents say the regional tourism operator is being influenced by several members of the community board who have their own agendas.

Paul Evans, the manager of a Te Anau business, said the community board included a few business owners who were trying to use Destination Fiordland for "their own gain".

A new cafe-bar was going to open in Sandy Brown Rd and this had created an anti-competition mentality, he said.

"I think some people are saying ‘if tourists aren't stopping at my place then I don't want them to stop at the new cafe-bar'." Mr Evans said a few businesses had taken control of Destination Fiordland and he called for a review of the organisation and its board.

Destination Fiordland was also not qualified to get involved with traffic issues, he said.

"There have been no quantifiable measurements done to see exactly how many cars, trucks, buses or campervans actually use Sandy Brown Rd."

Closing Sandy Brown Rd would be the same as Queenstown diverting traffic away from Frankton because tourists were shopping there, Mr Evans said.

Ms Hebblethwaite could not be reached for comment after the meeting.

Te Anau Community Board chairman Alistair Jukes confirmed a workshop had been held between the community board and Destination Fiordland but would not comment on the discussions.

"A workshop was held and the Southland District Council will issue a press release today," he said.

The Southland Times