Call for tourism body to be self-sustaining

Hugh Perkins.
Hugh Perkins.
Tourism Waitaki must strive to be more financially sustainable, a senior Waitaki district councillor says.

Cr Hugh Perkins, a former deputy mayor, said the council's expectation that the Waitaki District Council-controlled tourism body would begin to rely less on the council for funding ought to be reflected in the organisation's statement of intent.

''I think we should be thumping the table,'' Cr Perkins said.

Tourism Waitaki did not file an updated statement of intent before Tuesday's finance, audit and risk committee meeting, due to the appointment of a new general manager in mid-March, when Margaret Munro took on the role.

The meeting was the first opportunity for councillors to review the nature and scope of the activities, objectives, shareholder expectations and reporting, as well as performance targets and governance for each of its four council-controlled organisations.

All are due to be filed with the council before its June 26 meeting.

Before Mrs Munro took on the role, Tourism Waitaki reported that although it had budgeted for a surplus of $143,637 for this financial year, it had revised that to a deficit of about $120,000 because its new Harbour St attraction, Whitestone City, had failed to generate the revenue expected.

Cr Perkins, who is not on the finance, audit and risk committee but was at the meeting, said for the council to shy away from the goal of greater financial sustainability now was ''feeble''.

''I think the institution's memory is failing,'' Cr Perkins said.

When the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony was established, Tourism Waitaki was expected to operate as a business.

Cr Melanie Tavendale said yesterday's meeting was ''not the right time'' for the discussion.

Mrs Munro was overseas yesterday and did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Council finance and corporate development group manager Paul Hope said this year the council paid Tourism Waitaki $500,000 for its basic service agreement and $100,000 for management of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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