Shane Jones at the announcement for Tauranga's new cruise hub. Images and Video: Daniel Hines/SunLive.
More than 4000 jobs are expected to be created in the tourism industry following the Tauranga City Council securing nearly $1 million in central government funding for Te Tomokanga, Tauranga’s new cruise hub and visitor welcome centre.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones made the announcement at the Mount Maunganui surf club on Monday evening and says the Provincial Growth Fund will help fund the construction of Te Tomokanga to support the Bay of Plenty’s goal of creating 4000 new jobs in tourism.
Tauranga City Council and Tourism Bay of Plenty put in an application for a $980,000 slice of the Provincial Growth Fund, which was approved on Monday.
The funding adds to $4 million that council had already earmarked for the centre, which will replace temporary infrastructure that currently welcomes cruise ship visitors.
The new hub is expected to drive a 35 per cent increase in cruise ship numbers, boosting the amount spent by visitors.
Last season, the local economy benefited by about $91 million from the 223,000 cruise ship passengers who visited.
“The old welcome centre is made out of two converted cargo containers and provides neither a warm welcome to visitors nor tells the stories of the people of the Bay of Plenty,” says Shane Jones.
“The new hub, Te Tomokanga, will allow the region to present its best face to visitors. More and more tourists are visiting the Bay of Plenty and the region has done a great job marketing itself as a visitor destination. This new facility is crucial for providing a positive visitor experience as numbers increase.
“I’ve had no compunction whatsoever in supporting, as our contribution towards the five million dollar multi-purpose facility that will be built and known as Te Tomokanga – the entrance way, a sum of $980,000 as a grant from the provincial growth fund.
“Most importantly, we should celebrate success. And there is a great deal of successful things happening, a lot of momentum around the broader Tauranga area,” says Shane.
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless says the funding is great news for Tauranga.
“A new cruise gateway and visitor welcome centre will serve both cruise ship passengers and the general tourist market,” says Greg.
“Tourism is good for our local and regional economy and I’m pleased that Government has made a contribution to the cost of facilities.”
Shane says the $5 million multi-purpose facility will receive $980,000 from the PGF.
“Te Tomokanga will primarily cater to cruise ship passengers, but will assist visitor to Mount Maunganui arriving by car, and local residents.
“It will feature an i-site and covered area that will allow a range of uses including markets and concerts, and will replace an inadequate temporary structure currently used to process cruise ship passengers. Thirty four people will be employed in Te Tomokanga.
“Roughly half of all cruise passengers also visit Rotorua, Whakatane, and Hobbiton, so providing a fit-for-purpose gateway which provides links to the rest of the region will help the Bay take an important step in its tourism industry,” says Shane.
Tourism Bay of Plenty CEO Kristin Dunne is thrilled by the funding result.
“Years of planning and collaboration between Tauranga City Council, Tourism Bay of Plenty, the community and Ngai te Rangi culminated in reaching this funding target.
“We look forward to working with the council on this great new large, weather-proof centre,” says Kristin.
She says in Tauranga we don’t have tourists. Instead we have visitors and guests.
“We remember that when we travel we are not just a travelling wallet waiting to be extracted from. We are an adventurer, a traveller who’s seeking to experience different cultures, learn history, see new wonders and have experiences that transform our souls and create a lifetime of memories.
“To date we have been lacking in a whare to welcome our visitors to and to tell these stories and bring our visitors and locals together.
“So today’s announcement and the funding from Tauranga City Council, now enables us to plan, to welcome and serve our visitors with the manaakitanga that they deserve.
“It is where you come as a stranger and find friendly, knowledgeable and trusted local guides to connect you to the people and the businesses of our place.
“So the location of Te Tomokanga on our much loved Coronation Park is perfect, as it means we can welcome all visitors but also more efficiently and effectively service the rapidly growing cruise industry.”
Kristin says the design of Te Tomokanga started three years ago.
The designer started with a blank sheet of paper and with representatives from hapu they designed a signature building concept that reflects our history, our culture and our stories.
The additional funding will allow for the design of a space that facilitates powhiri, has a community area, and tells the region’s unique cultural stories.
“This project has been identified as an infrastructure priority for the Bay of Plenty and has support from across the whole region, including Destination Rotorua, iwi, businesses and regional tourism organisations,” says Shane.
The Bay of Plenty’s tourism visitor spend is expected to increase by 60 per cent over the next decade, reaching $1.45 billion by 2028.