Recently, there have been some murmurings around Warkworth that the Information Centre is about to close. This has no doubt been brought about by news that One Warkworth has, after consultation with Matakana Coast Tourism, decided that the joint venture between the two organisations would end. But rest assured, the Information Centre is staying open, with One Warkworth taking sole responsibility for it.
Previously it was run as an i-SITE, which required certain conditions around staffing levels and hours of operation. Running it as an Information Centre gives us more autonomy and flexibility to scope and deliver services that will meet the needs of locals and visitors alike.
We believe this region needs and deserves an information hub not just focused on tourism, but on the goods and services that local businesses provide to the wider area. This is why One Warkworth is committed to keeping the Information Centre open.
Unfortunately, the i-SITE model was simply not financially sustainable given the conditions set down, and it provided limited opportunity to meet the needs of non-tourist based activities. At the moment, it is being run by manager Alison Hitchcock and a few very capable volunteers from Monday to Friday. Currently, there are not enough volunteers for us to open over the weekends, but we’re hopeful we will be able to extend to weekend hours in the future.
The type of questions being asked at the Information Centre are changing. In the past, 99 per cent of the questions related to tourism, accommodation, where to eat and where to go, with a large number of visitors coming in to book accommodation and activities. Questions now include where to find a dentist, lawyer, plumber and what the best schools are. This opens up new opportunities for local businesses, and over time we will be developing a comprehensive list of all businesses in the region to complement the One Warkworth website directory.
Currently, One Warkworth members and the hospitality, tourism and accommodation providers that already have brochures in the Information Centre get priority promotion, so the best way to take advantage of this marketing opportunity is to join One Warkworth. In the future, however, we will be offering non-member businesses an opportunity to display advertising brochures for a fee. Watch this space for more details. Moving forward, the goal of the Information Centre is to promote local businesses beyond just tourism, to help generate the revenue needed to keep the centre open and extend the operating hours to the weekends. Rest assured, we are here to stay.
Murray Chapman, One Warkworth, Manager