Tourism impacts on local infrastructure and economy

The Raglan Community Board is looking for solutions to the impact more than 22,000 visitors a week to Raglan during the summer are having on the local infrastructure and economy.

A report commissioned by the Waikato District Council and tabled at the February community board meeting looked at options to cater for the growing tourist market.

As well as the impact on the local infrastructure, the report also highlighted the huge amount of money generated by the tourist dollar.

A major contributor to the local Raglan economy, tourism contributed $120 million to the Waikato District economy last year and tourism expenditure in the district has grown at an average of 8.6 percent annually for the past three years.

Infrastructure improvements outlined in the report included upgrading substandard road segments on the Wainui Road segment to Wainui Beach, a shuttlebus service between Raglan Wharf and Manu Bay during the summer peak period, and including stops at the Recreation Sports Park carpark, town centre and Manu Bay, and promoting spill-over parking from the town centre to Marine Parade and the Raglan Recreation/Sports Reserve carpark as some of the options.

Other options put forward in the report to alleviate visitor impact on the town include a walk and cycle trail from the Raglan Wharf to the Wainui Beach carpark, a new walkway from the Raglan Sports Reserve’s carpark to the intersection of Wallis and Puriri Streets and adding cultural tourism activities or new events in the winter offseason.

Community board chair Bob McLeod says the report highlights the need to look at a user-pay system for services such as parking and earmarking the revenue solely for Raglan.

Currently, money received from parking fines goes straight into the council’s pool of funds and Bob says the community board would like to explore having money raised from parking and other user-pay services committed to Raglan.

“We will only introduce [user-pays] if it can go into a Raglan account.”

The community board is also considering amending the parking bylaw to allow the introduction of permitted parking in the town, and Bob says this could also include boat ramp parking.

Currently, the boat ramps are serviced by the Waikato District Council and Bob says ultimately ratepayers are paying for a large majority of out-of-town boaties’ access to the ramps.

The board will hold a community workshop prior to the April community board meeting to discuss the implications arising from the report.

“We know where the problems are, we want people to come with solutions,” he says.

The report is available to read online at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/your-council/council-committees-boards/community-boards-and-committees/raglan-community-board.

Janine Jackson