Plan to restructure Tourism Waitaki

A poor financial position and the need to adapt to changing technology in the tourism sector is behind proposed staff restructuring at Oamaru-based Tourism Waitaki.

Last  week,  the Waitaki District Council-controlled organisation started consultation with staff about the restructuring, which involved the disestablishment of eight  roles and the creation of nine new ones.

If the restructuring  goes ahead, staff may be redeployed in similar roles or asked to apply for those newly created. The proposal will not affect frontline staff at Victorian-themed tourism attraction Whitestone City, the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, the Oamaru i-Site or the Omarama Information Centre.

Tourism Waitaki chairman Mike McElhinney said the restructuring had come about primarily because of the organisation’s  financial position, but also the need to compete with other tourism industry players.

"We ran at a loss in the last financial year and it’s clear that the organisation’s structure isn’t totally fit for purpose. We simply can’t go on like this. We need to pull back core services and make sure we have the right staff and resources to raise our game within the fiercely competitive tourism marketplace and operate within budget."

Tourism Waitaki posted a total deficit of $61,512 for the 2017-18 financial year, compared with a profit of $48,416 the previous year.

In an effort to offset losses from the underperforming Whitestone City, which had not attracted the numbers expected, the organisation has made several cutbacks over the past several months, such as the closure of the Palmerston i-Site, limiting discounts for Waitaki residents at the penguin colony and withdrawing from events  not considered the organisation’s core business.

One of those was Oamaru on Fire, but a group of Oamaru residents banded together to stage the event.

Mrs Munro said the restructuring was necessary if Tourism Waitaki was  to hold its own in the at times cut-throat tourism sector.

"Currently, we have some exciting opportunities happening. We also need to boost our online presence and be right across the social and digital media to keep up with our competitors."But we don’t have a complete skill base that will be effective in upping our game on these projects. We need to get this right and make sure we are properly resourced with the right people in the right roles."

She said the organisation was in the process of "building a project plan", which "covered a mix of possibly new products coming into the district and the enhancement of ones that we already have". The consultation process was likely to be completed in mid-December, she said.

Tourism Waitaki  employed 34 staff at present.

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