By Alan Tristram
Kapiti District Councillor Jackie Elliott says the District Council (KCDC) has ‘missed the boat to save Kapiti Island tourism.’
Cr Elliott, a former tour guide on the island, says Island tour operators estimate business is down 80% on previous years.
And the least the KCDC can do, she says, is to act to get Kapiti Island put back on the DOC booking website.
She says: “Now we have the proof, numbers have plummeted from 1569 last January to 283 last month.
“The dramatic decline began with the Department of Conservations increase in daily permit charges from 1st Feb 2013 from $11.20 per adult to $29.80.
“DOC changes also saw Kapiti Island removed from the DOC online booking site, and loaded operators with increased levels of compliance costs and the full cost of supplying guides to carry out DOC bio security checks and introductory talks. “
Councillors Elliott says that when the KCDC has discussed economic growth, she has asked the Council repeatedly to ‘sit up and take notice of the decline.’
She adds: “We need to look after our existing tourism assets before investing in new ventures.”
Cr Elliott says DOC are aware of the feedback and there will be a Ministerial Review in May. but says: ” We have been fobbed off. May is the middle of the year and tourism operators would normally be taking bookings for the 2015 summer season, the continuing delay puts yet another season in jeopardy.
“The long awaited $30,000 KCDC gateway report is due out on the 27th of March, however Cr Elliott says she doubts that it will address the urgent action needed by Council to lobby the Minister of Conservation to save the local jobs and businesses at risk by DOC’s actions.
” The least we can do is suggest they get Kapiti back on the DOC booking website.”