Matakana Coast Tourism (MCT) has decided to pull out of the Warkworth i-SITE, saying it has found the visitor’s centre too much of a financial drain.
The decision comes almost exactly a year after MCT teamed up with the One Warkworth Business Association to run the i-SITE as a joint venture.
Up until the joint venture agreement, MCT had benefitted from a three-year grant from Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) to run the i-SITE, but struggled once the money ran out.
The i-SITE continued to run at a loss and was downgraded to an information centre some months ago, though currently it still bears i-SITE signage.
The downgrade meant the centre did not have to open on weekends and could make greater
use of volunteer staff.
Despite the reduced running costs, MCT chair Penny Webster says the MCT executive considered the costs were still too high and was distracting the MCT from other important tasks.
It’s anticipated that One Warkworth will take over sole responsibility for running the venue as an independent community and business information centre, assuming Auckland Council agrees.
One Warkworth chair Chris Murphy says the i-SITE has been a strong contributor to businesses in the area for years and not just those related to tourism. Many use the centre to make enquiries about finding a local plumber or electrician.
“We would not want to see that benefit to local business lost,” he says.
One Warkworth will be looking at sustainable ways of financing the information centre so it can operate for longer hours if possible.