Closure of five Auckland i-SITEs confirmed

Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) today announced the confirmation of a new organisational structure for its regional i-SITE visitor information network that will result in the closure of the five i-SITEs located at Orewa, Takapuna, Kumeu, Pukekohe and Bombay, and the disestablishment of 20 full and part time positions.

"Visitors are voting with their feet and their fingers and we simply must adapt and respond to the reality of the changing information needs of visitors," ATEED Chief Executive Brett O’Riley said today.

"The tourism market is changing rapidly, both in terms of the mix of visitors and in the ways they access information before they leave home and when they are here in the region."

"The latest Tourism New Zealand visitor experience survey shows significantly higher smart phone, tablet and laptop use by visitors to access information and make bookings, with laptop and iPad use up 19 per cent and smart phone use up by a staggering 65 per cent in the last year alone. The survey also shows that i-SITE use is down 27 per cent over the last two years."

"Visitor use of i-SITEs has been further impacted by fewer numbers of independent travellers and visitors from long-haul markets, who have tended to use i-SITEs, and more from China and Australia, who tend not to."

"In essence, these five i-SITEs are no longer fit for purpose and are expected to lose around $2.7 million over the next four years, so we intend developing a new commercial model for these areas possibly involving local Auckland Council assets such as service centres and libraries and greater use of technology, along with possible partnering with the private sector."

"We appreciate the feedback we received on the review and on the proposed organisational structure which provided a range of views and ideas from those advocating more rationalisation to those suggesting more promotion of local i-SITEs and expanding their retail offering."

Brett O’Riley said the five i-SITEs will close on Friday 14 December 2012 and that ATEED will be working with the respective Local Boards, local tourism operators and the business community to develop localised solutions within the new commercial model.

"Our other seven i-SITEs located at the International and Domestic terminals, Sky City, Princes Wharf, Waiheke Island, Warkworth and Devonport will remain and we will also be looking at how to improve their performance within the new commercial model," Brett O’Riley said.

"The new commercial model will give us a more customer-centric and flexible approach to visitor information supporting the Destination Auckland initiative, so that areas currently missing out can be better served."

"If we are to significantly increase visitor numbers and visitor nights and move Auckland from a gateway to a genuine destination, we need to move with the market."

Brett O’Riley acknowledged the closures are unsettling and will have a profound impact on the ATEED staff members affected.

"The 20 affected i-SITE managers and staff will be given redeployment priority with respect to recruitment for suitable roles that are currently vacant within ATEED and we will be working with Auckland Council and the other Council Controlled Organisations, along with local Business Improvement Districts and the private sector, to identify other possible opportunities for affected i-SITE personnel." Brett O’Riley said.

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