The Oamaru and Waitaki visitor centre could be on the move.
The Waitaki District Council has entered into discussions with the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust about the service being run from Whitestone City.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said there had been discussions about contracting the trust to operate the visitor centre, but the Covid-19 lockdown had disrupted any progress.
“It’s something we’re wanting to have another meeting with them about … we need to progress those discussions,” Mr Kircher said.
“At the moment, it’s still sitting with Tourism Waitaki, but we’re looking at the different options, to make sure that we can try and find the best one that’s going to actually serve the community as well as possible.”
Tourism Waitaki runs the information centre from the council-owned building at the corner of Itchen and Thames Sts. The regional tourism organisation receives funding to offer the service, as part of its contract with the council.
Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust chairman Graeme Clark said the trust was “most definitely” interested in the opportunity.
“We’re really just waiting to see what’s going to happen.”
Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro said the regional tourism organisation was “happy” to continue to operate the Oamaru and Waitaki visitor centre this summer from the same site.
The visitor centre is closed for the winter at present, and Mrs Munro said if the council was happy for Toruism Waitaki to continue running the service, it would open for the summer in time for the Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations.
Tourism Waitaki closed the former Oamaru iSite in June last year, under a restructure amid the Covid-19 crisis. It was reopened as an independent centre in October, staffed seven days a week during school holidays, and five days a week outside the holidays, until June this year. Mrs Munro said about 39 people visited the centre each day.
During the centre’s closure during the winter months, visitor information had been available from Rose’s General Store in Tyne St, which Mrs Munro said had worked well.
Created as an interactive tourism attraction in a joint venture between the trust and Tourism Waitaki, with support from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Whitestone City opened in May 2017 and was closed on March 20 last year, Tourism Waitaki citing financial losses and the impact of Covid-19.
It was reopened by the civic trust on a volunteer basis in July last year and Mr Clark said it had been going
“We had our 15,000th visitor through the door – we’re very happy with it.”