Mackenzie marketing reboot proposed

18:36, Dec 04 2012

A major review of the Mackenzie district's tourism services suggests keeping marketing funding at a similar rate, with a council committee having a say over its direction.

Lincoln University Commerce Department lecturer Anthony Brien presented the report to councillors yesterday.

It suggests the council continue funding tourism and economic development through a flat targeted rate of $60 per ratepayer - roughly $240,000 overall - but a council committee should decide how the money would be spent.

"The committee should act as a procurement agency. There is no easy way to do this, but a gold-plated marketing and tourism organisation is simply not sustainable," Dr Brien said.

Dr Brien has chaired a working party on solutions for promoting tourism in the Mackenzie district, in response to the council dis banding its tourism trust earlier this year.

The committee should include a council representative, along with members from the tourism, farming, community and economic development sectors.


Organisations could present proposals to the committee, which would be assessed for funding on a case-by-case basis.

"The fund should be fully contestable, but the time has come for some of the stakeholders to pay more of their own share," Dr Brien said.

The district council recently outsourced its tourism marketing to Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism, whose contract runs out in August.

Councillor Graeme Page asked Dr Brien whether the group had considered introducing a "bed tax" for providers of accommodation.

"We have about 400,000 bed-nights each year. If each were charged an extra dollar, there would be a lot more funding to go around."

However, Dr Brien said the strategy had been trialled and failed in places such as Queenstown.

He said economic development had been a "poor cousin" to tourism, and the funding pool should also allow for economic development projects.

"There is also the opportunity to co-operate with groups such as Aoraki Business Development and Tourism. It's about accessing the best services," Dr Brien said.

The council will debate the report's findings early next year.

The Timaru Herald