Enterprise review a 'whitewash'

Tunnel Beach. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Tunnel Beach. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
A key figure in Dunedin's tourism sector says the review of Enterprise Dunedin is "a bit of a whitewash" and nothing will change.

However, the man running the in-house Dunedin City Council agency says he and his team are committed to doing a better job for the city.

The comments came after the results of an independent review, released on Friday, highlighted underperformance by Enterprise Dunedin across the tourism sector.

The review stopped short of recommending the creation of a new, arms-length council-controlled organisation (CCO) to promote tourism in Dunedin.

Instead, it recommended changes to the Enterprise Dunedin operation, including the recruitment of a new senior city marketing manager "with experience and credibility".

Larnach Castle director Norcombe Barker, who previously criticised Enterprise Dunedin's performance as an "unmitigated disaster", said when contacted on Saturday the recommendations needed to go further.

Norcombe Barker. Photo: ODT
Norcombe Barker. Photo: ODT
He accepted it made sense for some of Enterprise Dunedin's economic development functions to remain in-house, but thought tourism should be treated differently.

He favoured a return to the Tourism Dunedin model, arguing a new CCO would help encourage top-quality governance by people who understood tourism.

Instead, the review - and the council - appeared to be "looking backwards to justify the decision, rather than looking forward for what's best for the city".

That was despite the review finding 56% of survey respondents felt Enterprise Dunedin's delivery model was not working well for the visitor sector, compared with just 16% who felt it was.

"It seems to me it's a brush-off - a bit of a whitewash - and things will carry on exactly the same," Mr Barker said.

"It's one of the definitions of insanity."

Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said the review's recommendations were "pretty sound" but change was already happening.

He accepted the review's conclusions Enterprise Dunedin had been underperforming in the tourism sector, but he argued the agency was not the only player responsible for growth in the sector.

"I think that is something the whole sector has got to be discussing," Mr Christie said.

"We're not the only player driving that."

The process to recruit a new senior city marketing manager had been on hold during the review, but would begin immediately, in the hope of having someone in place by July 1, he said.

"I, for one, am very keen to see that happen."

He also accepted there had been an "absence" of an advisory committee for the tourism sector, which would be addressed, and the need for more funding sources would be considered, Mr Christie said.

"I think there's certainly a need for additional resourcing around specific areas of work that we do. That's a decision that council will take through appropriate processes.

"The sector is saying they'd like to see more funding put into tourism promotion and city promotion. We'll be looking at, not just council funding, but any other funding that's available."

Introducing the changes identified by Martin Jenkins was "very important" and the work had begun already, he said.

"I'm completely supportive of all of them, and in many cases we're under way."

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan was also happy with the review, saying it set out "pretty good guidelines" for the city to follow and move forward.

"To their credit, there has been some movement in that direction already. Some progress has been made already, which is a great start.

"There's a line in the sand. We can choose to continue to look back, or we can look forward and make sure that these recommendations are implemented."

Comments

"There's a line in the sand. We can choose to continue to look back, or we can look forward and make sure that these recommendations are implemented."

Just take a breath and listen to yourself.

I agree with Mr Barker. The council are just trying to brush this report under the carpet. They have carefully timed the release of this report to minimize it's impact and then said oh we were going to do that away. The fact that this report was needed only highlights the lack of expertise within the council and confirms the millions of dollars that have been lost to the city though their incompetence. The city desperately needs better leadership, one that will not accept incompetence, will hold people accountable for their decisions and actions and one who has a clear long-term vision for the city.