5 October 2021
Media: Local Democracy Reporter
Topic: iPark system outage
I understand the i-Park parking machines and the PrestoPark app are down.
Could I please provide an update on this including if people risk being ticketed today while the methods of payment are down and if the council / i-Park knows why this has happened?
Does the council know how long these have been down?
Is it at all related to Facebook apps (FB, Instagram, WhatsApp) being down as well?
The reporter was referred to the following update on Council’s website and was informed that parking wardens and Safe City Guardians would be informing customers on the street about the issue.
5 October 2021 - 12.15pm
Parking system outage - resolved
It is thought that the global internet issues experienced widely this morning were also affecting our parking system. The issue has now been resolved and the parking system is back up and running.
Enforcement of paid parking in the CBD will resume this afternoon. Customers can pay for parking at any parking meter in the zone they are parked in, or via the parking app PrestoPark.
5 October 2021 - 9.30am
Parking system outage
Currently there is an issue affecting the parking meters and payment app in Rotorua. This may be linked to the global internet issues affecting other sites this morning. This is under investigation and we are working hard to resolve this as fast as possible.
In the meantime, wardens will not be issuing infringement notices relating to non payment until 1pm. All other infringement notices will continue to be issued, so please continue to adhere to sign posted time limits.
The situation will be reviewed again later this morning.
Updates will be posted here on Council's website or customers are welcome to phone our Customer Centre on 07 348 4199 for information.
Media: NZME (Rotorua Daily Post and BOP Times)
Topic: Housing and visitor accommodation
I’m working on a story regarding Rotorua’s housing and accommodation challenges, and the subsequent demise of events (according to comments made in a Tauranga City Council meeting yesterday). According to Tourism Bay of Plenty boss Oscar Nathan: “They’ve got MIQ facilities, three of them, massive housing and accommodation issues. Essentially their downstream negative is our upstream benefit. It means locations like Rotorua are no longer at the top of the shopping list in terms of events.”
TBOP then suggested city commissioners focus on developing a central city hotel.
However, I understand facilities such as the Rotorua Events Centre are booked out for several months so I’d like to include this, if that’s the case, in my story.
Can you please tell us:
- How busy are Rotorua’s events and conference centres? And how far out exactly is the Rotorua Events Centre booked out until? And how does this compare to the same time last year?
- Where are most of these people attending events expected to stay? How is the council supporting events with limited accommodation (due to MIQ and emergency housing)?
- What is the latest update for the “pop up hotel” for the Whaka 100 mountain bike event? https://www.nzherald.co.nz/rotorua-daily-post/news/whaka-100-and-bookatent-combine-to-bring-pop-up-hotel-for-rotorua-mountain-bike-event/GUGTGRMVY2KDJG7NHXMVNYKBCE/
Questions for the mayor:
- Does Tourism Bay of Plenty have a point? Do you believe the statement that Rotorua is no longer an events favourite? If so, why? If not, why not?
- Does this comment concern you, given that is the perception of a tourism boss in your wider region? If so why? If not, why not?
- Is this a matter the council has met or discussed at all lately? If so, please elaborate?
- In your personal view, do you find the comments about turning Rotorua's challenges into a positive for Tauranga hurtful or offensive? Or do you find it standard business behaviour?
- What impact from Rotorua’s accommodation situation have you seen on the local events scene, if any?
From Council’s Arts and Culture Manager, Stewart Brown:
As an event destination, Rotorua offers the full package and remains a very attractive location for event organisers. We have a significant amount of tourist attractions and activities on our doorstep, Rotorua is easy to get to and once people are here, it’s easy for them to get around by foot, bike, or vehicle.
While the use of motels and hotels for long-term accommodation and MIQ facilities does put pressure on us during busy periods, we still have significant capacity for domestic and event business with around 3000 hotel and motel beds still available in Rotorua.
Our forward projections for events at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre are very strong. 2022 is looking relatively full and we’re taking enquiries for events in 2023, 2024, and 2025. The recent COVID-19 lockdown impacted nine business events. However only three were cancelled and everything else has either been rebooked, or postponed and pending further information about Alert Levels and alternative dates.
In regards to business events, rescheduling due to COVID-19 restrictions has seen the seasonality of events change and we are currently projecting a very busy first quarter next year. This would usually be considered a quiet period for business events, so this will be welcome support the accommodation and hospitality sectors in the absence of international tourists.
From Deputy Mayor Dave Donaldson (in mayor's absence):
These comments from Oscar are inaccurate and particularly disappointing coming from someone so closely connected to Rotorua.
They’ve been said within a lobbying pitch, directed at a particular audience, and disregard what’s actually happening in the events industry in Rotorua.
Don’t count on our business floating downstream because events in Rotorua are thriving and will continue to do so. We’re well and truly open for business. We’ve got the capacity for it and we’ve got a lot to offer. Council remains very confident in the status of Rotorua as an attractive event destination.
Yes we are currently tackling housing challenges and have three MIQ hotels but these aren’t impacting our events industry. The biggest impact on events in Rotorua is the pandemic itself and the restrictions on numbers and movement of people that come with the various alert levels. But this is not unique to Rotorua.
As far as I’m aware, the majority of events that have had to reschedule due to COVID-19 restrictions have remained committed to holding their event in Rotorua.
Spectator and participant interest is demonstrated through staggering registration numbers and shows Rotorua remains a highly sought after destination for outdoor events, arts & culture events, and business events. People want to come here and successful events reinforce that perception.
Additionally, not only do we see events return to Rotorua, we see them grow. Major events such as Crankworx, Tarawera Ultramarathon, Xterra, and Whaka 100, have all returned year after year and have experienced continuous growth.
I am very confident that Rotorua remains a strong performing event destination, especially in terms of participant satisfaction, and look forward to further strengthening our proven track record in this space, particularly as vaccination rates lift and new tools such as the vaccine passports give organisers more certainty.
Rotorua Economic Development was asked similar questions and provided the following statement from Andrew Wilson, Chief Executive Rotorua Economic Development:
“Rotorua will always be a priority location for events given our ability to accommodate significant numbers of visitors and our unique appeal and calibre as a visitor destination. Rotorua has in excess of 10 branded hotels which equate to approximately 800 hotel rooms at 4 star plus/4 star level and another 400 at 4 Star. This is supplemented by 100s of motel, lodge and peer-to-peer accommodation units. By the start of 2023, we would expect to have at least one or two of the MIQ hotels returned to our visitor accommodation stock (adding another 140 - 300 rooms).
Despite the commentary often reported in the media, our accommodation stock has not been affected by MIQ facilities or social housing and aside from the few weekends each year where we reach capacity, there is always room available.
Prior to the August lockdown, the visitor industry was experiencing a positive upturn in business activity and this year’s June school holidays were much busier compared to the same period in 2019. In our quarterly monitoring of perceptions toward Rotorua we note positive views of our city far outweigh any negative views.
On a personal level I am confused that the GM of Tourism Bay of Plenty would make suggestions that could potentially disadvantage his home town of Rotorua. Destination Rotorua has valued the close working relationship we’ve sought to maintain with TBOP and have always strived to work alongside our neighbours so that we can be complimentary in our offerings as a region so it’s a real surprise to hear that Oscar would suggest otherwise.”
Media: Local Democracy Reporter
Topic: Public attendance at council meetings
Reporter queried whether the public are allowed to attend this week’s Operations & Monitoring Committee meeting in person.
The reporter was provided with the following information and statement from Council’s Chief Executive and advised that media can attend but needed to advise Council prior to the meeting:
In light of the presence of COVID-19 in the community outside of Auckland, Rotorua Lakes Council committee and Council meetings will be closed to public attendance for the time being.
The public can still access meetings as they happen via livestreaming, and can access recordings of the meetings later, both via Council’s YouTube channel HERE.
“We are erring on the side of caution at this time, in the interests of public safety,” Council CE Chief Executive Geoff Williams says.
“We will monitor and review the situation as required.”
Elected members will have the option of either attending in person or via Zoom and provision will be made for media to attend in person if they wish.
Meetings were also closed to public attendance during Alert Level 2 following the 2020 lockdown with elected members able to attend via Zoom if they wished.
Under the current Alert Level 2 staff have been managing numbers in the Civic Centre and the public has had direct access to only the Customer Centre, with processes in place to escort people needing to access other areas.
Council’s meetings have been livestreamed since 2015 and the public is able to watch meetings as they are happening, and access full recordings afterwards, both via Council’s YouTube channel.