i-SITE trial at DoC Whakapapa Visitor Centre deemed a success
Ruapehu Council has deemed the nine-month trial of an i-SITE at the Department of Conservation (DoC) Visitor Centre at Whakapapa a success and voted to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with DoC to continue its operation for another three years.
The Whakapapa i-SITE has been operating as a satellite of the Ohakune i-SITE employing two full time visitor consultants who have been providing expert local visitor information advice and booking services.
Ruapehu i-SITE Manager Kim Treen said that the trial has gone well for everyone involved including Council, DoC, the i-SITE network, local tourism operators and most importantly for our visitors and tourists.
“With the DoC Whakapapa Visitor Centre being amongst the top three busiest in NZ attracting around 180,000 visitors a year the two i-SITE staff have had an extremely busy summer,” she said.
“It is estimated that between 50 to 60 percent of visitors ask for booking information or want to make a booking for travel, accommodation or an activity while at the Visitor Centre.”
Mrs. Treen said that the Whakapapa i-SITE is providing an important contribution toward Council’s support of local tourism operators.
“Having the trained i-SITE staff and systems available within the Visitor Centre and being able to provide these services on the spot significantly enhances the visitor experience for everyone’s benefit.”
“An analysis of the first six months of operations from June to December last year (2016) shows that over half (52%) of all sales were for local Ruapehu tourism operators with an average value over $7,000 per month.”
“For January this year that jumped to 60% of all sales worth over $14,000,” she said.
“Over the last three years total i-SITE revenue has more than doubled by 63% and is forecast to reach $800,000 this financial year which is a 30% increase on the year before.”
Mrs. Treen said that the success of Ruapehu’s i-SITE network shows why tourism and visitor services have been identified as offering great prospects for increasing investment, employment and incomes in the District.
“Ruapehu has a number of comparative advantages in tourism and visitor services, however, Council recognizes that if we are going to convert these local advantages into growth and especially jobs we need to provide opportunities for established businesses to grow and new businesses to start and succeed.”
“Council’s investment in Ruapehu’s i-SITE network as well as Visit Ruapehu is a critical part of leveraging these opportunities.”