WDC to review development, tourism plans

Gary Kircher. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Gary Kircher. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Waitaki District Council believes the district’s tourism and economic development activity could be delivering better value for ratepayers and more measurable benefits.

The council is undertaking a review of its economic development and tourism delivery and establishing a new economic development and tourism strategy.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said a report would be presented to councillors on December 8 to approve funding for the project.

"There is some funding that’s there, but it’s just ensuring that there’s enough to do the job very well, because we’ve spent a lot of money on economic development and on tourism each year and it’s important to get this right," Mr Kircher said.

Council chief executive Alex Parmley was in discussions with potential consulting companies to carry out the work.

"It’s a fairly big job," Mr Kircher said.

"We’re getting a consultant to carry out the work for us. Someone who’s specialised in that type of work, who’s going to have the ability and resource to engage with the community as widely and as quickly as we want to be able to do."

Mr Kircher announced that the council planned to undertake a review in August, after Tourism Waitaki’s "Sweet Spot" marketing campaign drew strong criticism in the district.

The council is both a shareholder and a customer of Tourism Waitaki, and Mr Kircher said the campaign had "put a lot of locals offside" and underlined the need for a review.

The aim of the review was to "optimise" economic development and tourism outcomes for the district and inform investment planning. It was also an opportunity to engage with stakeholders more effectively, to improve collaboration and enhance delivery, he said.

A governance group, which would provide the overall direction for the project, would be made up of Mr Kircher, deputy mayor Melanie Tavendale, councillors Jim Thomson and a representative from Te Runanga o Moeraki.

Other councillors, council staff, Tourism Waitaki staff, local businesses, Te Runanga o Moeraki, Ngai Tahu Tourism and more organisations and individuals would also be involved in the process. It was hoped the new strategy would be co-designed with those key stakeholders to ensure ownership of the outcomes was shared beyond the council, Mr Kircher said.

He hoped a final strategy would be ready for the council to adopt by April next year.

"Part of finding the right consultant is making sure they can deliver on the timeframes we want. We don’t want this to be something that drags on for a year or more."

 - rebecca.ryan@odt.co.nz

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