Tourism in “limbo”
Thursday, 18th December, 2014
By Erica Visser
City Council has again deferred a decision to hire a $30,000 consultant to create a major tourism event, but Mayor Wincen Cuy says it can’t afford to wait much longer.
Labor councillor Branko Licul last night moved a motion to defer a recommendation to pay a specialist from out of town to come up with an idea for a big event to match St Pat’s race meeting.
The matter was pushed back in September and a more comprehensive report was provided this month, but Clr Licul said it wouldn’t hurt to put a decision off another month.
“I (moved) that this decision be deferred to the January meeting on the grounds we have a tourism taskforce that is still up in the air,” Clr Licul said.
The creation of a peak body to lead tourism into the future was currently on the cards after a recent report found the emerging industry was “disengaged and fractured.”
But Mayor Cuy said that the deferral was a waste of time when Council needed to act quickly to reverse declining tourism numbers.
“I don’t see why we need to defer it...The tourism taskforce’s independent chair (Robin Edgecumbe) told me this week that it could take up to 12 to 14 months to be implemented,” he said after last night’s meeting.
“I don’t think this is something that can wait that long.”
Mayor Cuy admitted that tourism had been in “limbo” for some time, but said he wasn’t concerned that the taskforce could take more than a year to start up.
“We’ve been in a little bit of a limbo but Council still goes about pursuing the tourism market. From Council’s point of view, we’re still actively involved.
“We need to ensure the industry becomes engaged further down the line to market the city in conjunction with Council.”
While the suggestion to hire another consultant had proven controversial, Mayor Cuy said the city desperately needed a second event to rake in tourist dollars each year over a three to four-day period.
“As I’ve said previously, if we knew what that event was, we’d be trying it now,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily about how much we spend but how much we can potentially earn.”
Clr Licul could not envision what the proposed event may look like either.
“That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?”
The matter is expected to go back to Council at its next meeting on January 28.