Value of i-SITEs explained to local government owners

Visitors to New Zealand still want to talk to local travel experts for personal recommendations despite the rise of on-line sources, says i-SITE New Zealand.

The visitor information network hosted its one-day conference in Wellington in May for the Local Government owners of its 83 centres.

Attendees heard how eight million visitors seek out an i-SITE every year, generating a turnover of $76million.

For every dollar provided by Council’s in funding, the network returns on average $8.70 in GDP.

Executive Director Paul Yeo says the aim of the conference was to provide information on the challenges and opportunities faced by the network, and look at ways to enhance productivity and customer experiences.

“One of the biggest challenges faced by the network is that of declining spend,” says Paul.

“While more visitors are seeking out information from the network, they are choosing to book through alternatives.

“However, i-SITEs play a critical role in promoting local business, events and council and community services to those eight million visitors. They are central to keeping people in a region for longer, to experience more of a region than they might have first considered.

“In addition, all our i-SITEs add significant community value by providing both international and domestic visitors with important information around safety and well-being, whether it’s information on driving, on keeping safe in our outdoors or where people can legitimately camp.

“In the event of natural disasters i-SITES are the ‘go-to’ place for up-to-date information and as was demonstrated in the recent Kaikoura earthquakes, played a key role in supporting stranded visitors” Paul says.

The i-SITE network was established by Tourism New Zealand in 1990 and brings together independently owned and operated visitor centres.

The core aims of i-SITEs are to support travelling New Zealanders when they holiday around the country and improve the experience international visitors have when here.

“As tourism growth continues, demand for visitor information is increasing”, says Paul.                             

A new pop up satellite i-SITE was established in July last year within the Whakapapa DOC Visitor Centre; among others, a new i-SITE will be included as part of the National Army Museum opening in mid-2017, and new centres are planned for Woodville, Tokoroa, Mount Maunganui, Hawera, Balclutha and Foxton.

A new and improved joint i-SITE/DOC will reopen in Auckland early September 2017.

For more information please contact Paul Yeo – i-SITE New Zealand Executive Manager: M+64 21 403 513 or