Review of Dunedin's tourism agency under way

Norcombe Barker
Norcombe Barker

A review of the Dunedin City Council's in-house economic development, marketing and tourism agency, Enterprise Dunedin, is under way.

It was confirmed this week external consultant Martin Jenkins, which has offices in Wellington and Auckland, had been contracted to carry out the review, and had already begun interviewing key players.

An update emailed to stakeholders on Tuesday, said the three-month review was expected to be finished in September. It would include interviews with 20 external stakeholders across the city, as the reviewers scrutinised Enterprise Dunedin's structure, what was working and what was not.

They would then make recommendations to the council's economic development committee.

An online survey would also be sent to a wider circle of tourism businesses and other stakeholders, the update said.

The review came months after Larnach Castle director Norcombe Barker, a key figure in Dunedin's tourism industry, blasted the performance of Enterprise Dunedin as an ''unmitigated disaster''.

Mr Barker, speaking during the council's 10-year plan hearing in April, criticised the council's decision to replace Tourism Dunedin with its own in-house body in 2014.

Sue Bidrose.
Sue Bidrose.

The change had heralded a dramatic drop-off in the performance of the city's tourism sector, he said.

It had cost the city ''tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars'' in lost revenue, Mr Barker said.

A promised review of Enterprise Dunedin, planned for 2015, had also not happened, he said.

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose was not able to discuss the review yesterday, but, speaking in April, promised it would be ''the review we said we would do - it's just late''.

Others took issue with Mr Barker's claims and defended Enterprise Dunedin's performance in the wake of his claims.

Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said the review was being conducted independently of his organisation, but he had already been interviewed as part of a round of in-house interviews conducted by the consultant.

He was not sure who was on the list of 20 external stakeholders to be interviewed, but consultants had been asked to make the interviews representative of the sectors covered by Enterprise Dunedin.

They were also asked to ''pay particular attention to the tourism sector, because of its importance obviously, both in terms of the economy and interest in the review'', he said.

It is understood Mr Barker was among those on the list of 20 external stakeholders also to be interviewed as part of the review.

The council's economic development committee chairman, deputy mayor Chris Staynes, was not available yesterday but his deputy, Cr Andrew Whiley, stressed the review would examine Enterprise Dunedin's wider performance, not just tourism.

Cr Whiley said that would include reconsidering the need for a tourism advisory board to guide the sector's development.

''I look forward to the outcomes of what comes out of it.''


The only problem with the previous Tourism Dunedin model was that the DCC funded the Trust 100% but had little or no control over how the money was spent. Perhaps that's why the likes of Norcombe Barker would like to see a return to that model.

Having said that, I don't think this is a core function of Council and should be done by industry experts, but with minimal public financial input.

Dunners, you are not entirely correct regarding funding. Sure, Tourism Dunedin received baseline funding of c.$1.2m which was 100% from DCC - but cash, in-kind, and contra could take the overall budget to over $2m - some of that from the likes of Larnach Castle, Air NZ, etc.
There is no point in Council having "control over how the money was spent", as you say, when most DCC staff and councillors have no idea about tourism (or marketing or promotion) other than having "experienced travel" in their lifetimes - and therefore only have an opinion (rather than an expertise).
You may recall that Tourism Dunedin did have to report to Council regularly, and had more KPIs than most DCC departments - so I would suggest that scrutiny of it was higher than most of their own internal staff/divisions.
Some people would disagree with you that the promotion of the city is not a core function of council - depends on how you see "success" for your city I guess, and tourism is seen as being attractive for the country and economy at a national level - in most destinations with visitor economy ambitions around the world.

Hello, I don't know how, who or why tourism is funded in Dunedin, past or present but I do know that Dunedin has failed to take advantage of a huge economic industry. Dunedin should of developed into one of the world's main tourism cities simliar to Queenstown. If I was hosting the Trenz conference I would of been embarrassed by are lack of good tourist attractions, activities and accessibility to nature. It's not that we don't have the attractions it's just that non of them are world beating, they are all just a bit disappointing, under developed and not very exciting. Now Cadbury's has gone and the Fortune Theater, it really isn't looking good. We only have one international flight and friends living in Brisbane say that they have never seen Dunedin marketed there as a tourist destination. We have many unique advantages, yet we fail to take full advantage of them, in terms of promoting, developing and marketing. Still on the plus side it keeps things quiet and traffic delays unlikely.