Some of Dunedin's top cultural attractions could face a
''significant'' drop in visitor numbers if tourist entry fees
are introduced, Dunedin city councillors have been warned.
However, any decision not to introduce the new fees could end
up costing the council nearly $100,000 a year, a staff report
Councillors would consider the idea of tourist-only entry
fees for cultural attractions at a meeting of the council's
finance committee on Monday, more than a year after the new
system was suggested.
However, a report by Dunedin Public Art Gallery director Cam
McCracken, to be considered at the meeting, recommended the
proposed new charges be scrapped.
While such a move could generate an annual profit totalling
$96,000 from year two, upfront costs - including new
reception counters - would contribute to a loss of more than
$300,000 in the first year, he said.
An even bigger blow could be felt by some the city's leading
cultural institutions, including the DPAG and the recently
redeveloped Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, he warned.
Both could expect ''significant'' drops in visitor numbers if
the system was introduced, potentially by up to half, he
That was in part because the Otago Museum - governed by a
trust and outside council control - did not support the
introduction of entry fees for non-residents.
It already received some council funding but also generated
40% of its revenue from ''value-added'' activities, which
could be threatened by the introduction of an entry fee, he
And, without a uniform approach across the city, visitors
would likely switch from visiting the DPAG and settlers
museum facilities to the still-free Otago Museum instead, he
It was expected visitor numbers could fall by 35%-50%, which
could threaten tenants running the settlers museum cafe and
the revenue it generated for the museum, among other possible
effects, he said.
The report was backed by market research - carried out by Ben
Parsons and Associates for the council - which showed about
half of all visitors to the facilities considered entry fees
for non-residents to be a good idea.
However, a significant drop in visitor numbers would result,
in part because some locals would no longer bring out-of-town
guests to the attractions, the research also concluded.
The change would also mean a host of extra costs for the
council, including $200,000 for the possible introduction of
a new museum card identifying residents, changes to reception
areas and extra staff, he said.
There would also be a drop in income from the Dunedin Chinese
Garden, even as its visitor numbers increased, if its
existing entry fee was cut to bring it into line with other
council-owned attractions, he said.
In total, the new system would be expected to cost the
council $415,000 in upfront capital costs in the first-year,
and $550,610 in ongoing costs each year.
That would be offset by an ongoing jump in revenue from the
settlers museum, DPAG and the Chinese Garden facilities,
estimated to be worth $647,589 a year, Mr McCracken said.
That meant a total loss of $318,000 in the first year, due to
upfront capital costs, followed by a profit of $96,978 the
Mr McCracken's report also noted the idea of entry fees had
been tried, and abandoned, by Dunedin's cultural attractions
in the past, as well as elsewhere in New Zealand and
Entry fee costs
Capital cost of introduction: $415,000- Includes foyer
upgrades, signage, marketing and museum card.
Ongoing annual costs: $550,610- Includes loss of
retail income, grant income and Chinese Garden admissions
revenue, marketing costs and museum card costs.
Estimated annual income: $647,589- Annual fees revenue
from DPAG ($204,450) Toitu Otago Settlers Museum ($361,800)
and Dunedin Chinese Garden ($81,339).
Total (year 1): -$318,022
Total (year 2): $96,978