Emergency housing filling up visitor beds

Places sought in Tolaga or Morere when city 'booked' says accommodation provider

Places sought in Tolaga or Morere when city 'booked' says accommodation provider

The number of homeless people being housed in motels and hotels has left central Gisborne with a lack of beds for tourists, accommodation providers say.

That issue was one of several raised at the annual meeting of tourism advocacy group Tourism Eastland, along with a need for a revitalised CBD and more social media interaction.

“Discussions focused on the success of the recent summer season and how to improve the local tourism sector,” Tourism Eastland president Penny Shaw said.

“The operators present represented a good cross section of the tourism industry from accommodation, (motels, bed and breakfast establishments and farm stays), transport and activities. It was good for several to share their business with fellow tourism operators. Some acknowledged they were not known well within the community.

“This resulted in several options discussed, from increasing awareness through social media, to once again being involved in familiarisation tours by both the i-Site staff and fellow operators, to possible quality tourism awards.

“The accommodation providers present agreed there is a shortage of accommodation issue with emergency housing taking over motels and hotels and B&Bs. One operator explained they had to direct some people to Morere or Tolaga Bay when Gisborne was fully booked.”

Concern was also expressed over online booking systems.

“For example, suppose one month an operator had to pay $2000 as the commission — their 12 percent; if you multiply that $2000 by the number of operators, approximately 25, that is a huge amount of money leaving our little region.”

Ms Shaw said members were generally happy with how the recent cruise ship season had gone.

“Thankfully the infrastructure work being done around the inner harbour did not cause too many disruptions to cruise days, this was in part due to the work of Lana (Davy) of Heart of Gisborne who met with various parties throughout the season whenever a problem arose. The new disembarking area was good, speedy and safer with 200 people able to get off at once. The Port obviously has a commercial focus with discussion how that had affected berthing in 2019. The feeling was that overall the season was pretty successful despite four ships cancelled due to weather.”

Tourism Eastland congratulated both Lana Davy and Mel Sinoti for their great work at the wharf-side and general organising.

“The i-Site girls also did a good job covering every ship.”

With a new manager at the i-Site, members were also encouraged to ensure they make themselves known.

Concerns were raised over the state of the CBD.

“The meeting did agree that the city needs to be smartened up. That passion is missing. There is the feeling that tourism is growing in Gisborne but we are not selling ourselves. Everyone should be tourism promoters, so we need more shared information — especially considering most of the past year’s regional tourism organisation promotions concentrated on the very limited flight market into Gisborne”.

“All of us in Tourism Eastland know from over 30 years experience that this constitutes only a very small share of our true visitor market, who are primarily free independent travellers who drive.”

The number of homeless people being housed in motels and hotels has left central Gisborne with a lack of beds for tourists, accommodation providers say.

That issue was one of several raised at the annual meeting of tourism advocacy group Tourism Eastland, along with a need for a revitalised CBD and more social media interaction.

“Discussions focused on the success of the recent summer season and how to improve the local tourism sector,” Tourism Eastland president Penny Shaw said.

“The operators present represented a good cross section of the tourism industry from accommodation, (motels, bed and breakfast establishments and farm stays), transport and activities. It was good for several to share their business with fellow tourism operators. Some acknowledged they were not known well within the community.

“This resulted in several options discussed, from increasing awareness through social media, to once again being involved in familiarisation tours by both the i-Site staff and fellow operators, to possible quality tourism awards.

“The accommodation providers present agreed there is a shortage of accommodation issue with emergency housing taking over motels and hotels and B&Bs. One operator explained they had to direct some people to Morere or Tolaga Bay when Gisborne was fully booked.”

Concern was also expressed over online booking systems.

“For example, suppose one month an operator had to pay $2000 as the commission — their 12 percent; if you multiply that $2000 by the number of operators, approximately 25, that is a huge amount of money leaving our little region.”

Ms Shaw said members were generally happy with how the recent cruise ship season had gone.

“Thankfully the infrastructure work being done around the inner harbour did not cause too many disruptions to cruise days, this was in part due to the work of Lana (Davy) of Heart of Gisborne who met with various parties throughout the season whenever a problem arose. The new disembarking area was good, speedy and safer with 200 people able to get off at once. The Port obviously has a commercial focus with discussion how that had affected berthing in 2019. The feeling was that overall the season was pretty successful despite four ships cancelled due to weather.”

Tourism Eastland congratulated both Lana Davy and Mel Sinoti for their great work at the wharf-side and general organising.

“The i-Site girls also did a good job covering every ship.”

With a new manager at the i-Site, members were also encouraged to ensure they make themselves known.

Concerns were raised over the state of the CBD.

“The meeting did agree that the city needs to be smartened up. That passion is missing. There is the feeling that tourism is growing in Gisborne but we are not selling ourselves. Everyone should be tourism promoters, so we need more shared information — especially considering most of the past year’s regional tourism organisation promotions concentrated on the very limited flight market into Gisborne”.

“All of us in Tourism Eastland know from over 30 years experience that this constitutes only a very small share of our true visitor market, who are primarily free independent travellers who drive.”

MSD helped 179 families

A total of 179 families have been put up in hotel and motel accommodation over the summer, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development says.

“Where longer-term housing options aren’t immediately available, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is able to provide an Emergency Housing Special Needs Grant (EHSNG) to meet the cost of short-term commercial accommodation (usually a motel). While this is not a preferred option, this does ensure that people with an immediate housing need have a warm, safe and dry place to stay while agencies work with them to source long-term accommodation,” a ministry spokeswoman said.

“In the quarter ending December 31, 2018, MSD supported 179 households in EHSNG accommodation in Gisborne.

“Housing New Zealand and registered community housing providers place people in longer-term sustainable public housing. As at December 2018 there were 1257 public housing tenancies in Gisborne District.

“The Government has committed funding to deliver an additional 6400 public housing places across New Zealand by June 2022.

“The Ministry’s public housing plan calls for 75 of those places to be delivered in Gisborne.”

Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner Annie Aranui said clients must show evidence they have looked for private rental accommodation to qualify for emergency housing assistance

“We help people all the year round with emergency housing when they need short term stays.

“Our goal is for our clients to move into longer-term housing and we work with Housing New Zealand to do that.”

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