Tokoroa i-SITE service changing
Released: Tuesday 26 March 2019
The Tokoroa i-SITE service in its current form will be closing at the end of September. The information service will be moving to the Tokoroa Library.
“Council knows the Tokoroa i-SITE service that the Switched on Tourism team has delivered over the years has been outstanding,” said Ben Smit, Council’s Chief Executive. “The closure of the i-SITE is not related to the quality service Council, our community and visitors have enjoyed over the years.
Council finds it hard to justify making the significant capital and operational funding available to maintain an i-SITE service in Tokoroa given the changing face of i-SITE services nationally and the nature of local vs tourist queries.
“Visitors, both national and international are conducting much of the ‘tourist information’ service via online devices,” said Heather Gaby, Council’s Acting Community Group Manager. “The current i-SITE service in Tokoroa handles around 20% of ‘tourist queries’; the remaining 80% are local queries by local people. These queries can be handled out of the library hub.”
“We want to be very clear with our community, we believe this is a sound business decision,” continued Mr Smit. “The hard part of the decision is the exceptional relationship Council has enjoyed with the i-SITE team over the past decades.”
By comparison, Tīrau is the district’s northern gateway and with tourists leaving Auckland airport and travelling south, is one of the few towns that they will still travel through, and is a comfortable two hours from the airport. Also with Tīrau’s proximity to Hobbiton and iconic building we feel a more modern i-SITE service in Tīrau is justifiable and perfectly situated to promote the highlights of the district.
As a result, Council will be investigating increased level of capital and operational funding into the i-SITE service in Tīrau as this facility is still predominantly used as a ‘tourist information hub’.
“We hope to work closely with the operator of the Tīrau i-SITE to continue and improve on the exceptional service we have come to expect out of The Dog,” continued Mrs Gaby.
“Reinvesting some of the savings realised by closing the Tokoroa i-SITE into the production of digital media assets to promote the District to visitors and tourists could provide a stronger return on investment to Council and enable Council to promote the District to a much wider audience online,” continued Mrs Gaby.
With no Citizen’s Advice Bureau in the district and 80% of the current Tokoroa i-SITE’s custom being local service enquiries, transport bookings and general assistance to community members, it is prudent to identify there is an obvious need within the community for this service but that an i-SITE, with a tourist focus, is not the right solution.
Visitor information however, would still be available. This service may be able to be incorporated into the current roles of library staff but may require an increase in staffing levels if it becomes unmanageable. This would require further investigation. ENDS. Words: 484