Price hike sus­pended for res­i­dents

Otago Daily Times - - REGIONS - DANIEL BIRCHFIELD [email protected]

THE WAITAKI Dis­trict Coun­cil has urged Tourism Waitaki to scrap price hikes for Waitaki res­i­dents view­ing pen­guins at the Oa­maru Blue Pen­guin Colony and vis­it­ing White­stone City as part of a sec­ond ex­tended ser­vice agree­ment be­tween the two par­ties.

At a meet­ing of the full coun­cil this week, coun­cil­lors moved in favour of the ex­ten­sion, with a spe­cial con­di­tion.

That con­di­tion, moved by Cr Me­lanie Taven­dale, was that price in­creases for Waitaki res­i­dents to en­ter the colony and White­stone City that came into ef­fect on Oc­to­ber 1 be shelved un­til the ex­tended ser­vice agree­ment ends on June 30, 2019.

In­tro­duced ear­lier this year, the con­tro­ver­sial move meant res­i­dents had to pay up to $45 for pre­mium evening view­ing dur­ing that pe­riod in­stead of $9. And in­stead of $5, lo­cal adults pay $20 for en­try to White­stone City be­tween Oc­to­ber 1 and March 31.

Tourism Waitaki gen­eral man­ager Margaret Munro told the Otago Daily Times at the time of the an­nounce­ment ‘‘ca­pac­ity is­sues’’ had prompted the change.

‘‘Some nights . . . this sum­mer we are al­ready booked out. That’s why we’re try­ing to get the avail­abil­ity for vis­i­tors to be able to see the ex­pe­ri­ence if they are only here for one night, whereas lo­cals have got the op­por­tu­nity to go year­round, re­ally,’’ she said.

‘‘It seems silly to to say to vis­i­tors who visit here ‘No you can’t come and see them be­cause we’ve got lo­cals fill­ing up the seats’. It’s just a com­mon sense thing, re­ally.’’

Mean­while, a re­port tabled this week said ‘‘the or­gan­i­sa­tion was not ap­pro­pri­ately struc­tured to de­liver much of what the coun­cil wanted in an ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive man­ner.’’

As a re­sult, Tourism Waitaki an­nounced last week that it had be­gun staff con­sul­ta­tion about re­struc­tur­ing, which in­volved eight roles be­ing dis­es­tab­lished and nine roles cre­ated.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion’s fi­nan­cial po­si­tion was also ques­tioned by the coun­cil.

Tourism Waitaki posted an af­ter­tax deficit of $61,512, com­pared with a $48,416 sur­plus the pre­vi­ous year.

In the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s an­nual re­port, Tourism Waitaki chair­man Mike McEl­hin­ney at­trib­uted the loss to ‘‘over­pro­jected revenue’’ for Vic­to­rian­themed at­trac­tion White­stone City.

The at­trac­tion earned $80,055 in revenue for the year ended June 30.

The ser­vice agree­ment was ex­tended so Tourism Waitaki could com­plete its planned staff re­struc­ture, which Mrs Munro said was driven by the need to em­ploy staff that could en­hance its dig­i­tal pres­ence to com­pete with other or­gan­i­sa­tions.

It also al­lowed Tourism Waitaki to com­plete its re­view of the Dis­trict Tourism Strat­egy.

PHOTO: HAMISH MA­CLEAN

A ques­tion of price . . . The Oa­maru Blue Pen­guin Colony.

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