Report calls for upgrade

The  little blue penguin colony at Oamaru Harbour. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
The little blue penguin colony at Oamaru Harbour. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
A $713,000 redevelopment of the Oamaru blue penguin colony has been suggested to maintain its status in the nature heritage industry.

The Waitaki District Council will tomorrow discuss a report from colony manager Jason Gaskill and council chief executive Michael Ross.

It recommends the council resolve that the Waitaki Development Board oversees the redevelopment and that it goes ahead over the next two years "to ensure it retains its competitive advantage as one of the Waitaki district's prime tourism destinations".

The costs identified comprised construction $561,000; architect fees $45,000; project management fees $15,000; consent fees $8000; equipment $28,000 and contingency $56,000.

More space, upgraded viewing experiences and the introduction of broad-platform technologies would improve visitor experiences and thereby provide greater opportunity for revenue generation, the report said.

The development could be funded from current cash reserves - the colony has about $700,000 on term deposit for the project.

There were three main challenges the colony faced which had encouraged it to undertake the development - an increase in competitive activity, the need to broaden its appeal and the upgraded facilities that agents and in-bound tour operators were seeking for their tours.

Additional space was needed to better manage visitor arrivals, interactive signage was required to improve the customer experience, upgraded tour areas were required and high-end seating would cater to a new market segment.

Published research undertaken at the colony provided a significant point of difference and increased facilities were required to maintain and grow its reputation.

A specific area was required to manage large special interest groups, such as school groups.

It was expected the cost of construction could be recovered out of operational surpluses over the next five to seven years.

Given the developments and operation time, an increase in revenue of about $390,000 a year was projected.


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