City of hobart
Economic Development & Communications Committee Meeting
Thursday, 23 February 2017
at 5.00 pm
Lady Osborne Room, Town Hall
ORDER OF BUSINESS
Item No. 10
Supplementary Agenda (Open Portion)
Economic Development & Communications Committee Meeting
Report of the Manager City Marketing of 21 February 2017 and the Director Community Development and attachments.
The General Manager reports:
“That in accordance with the provisions of Part 2 Regulation 8(6) of the Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2015, this supplementary matter is submitted for the consideration of the Committee.
Pursuant to Regulation 8(6), I report that:
(a) information in relation to the matter was provided subsequent to the distribution of the agenda;
(b) the matter is regarded as urgent; and
(c) advice is provided pursuant to Section 65 of the Act.”
Item No. 10
Supplementary Agenda (Open Portion)
Economic Development & Communications Committee Meeting
REPORT PROVIDED BY: Manager City Marketing
Director Community Development
1. Report Purpose and Community Benefit
1.1. This report presents a design and delivery timeframe for a new information booth for Elizabeth Mall for endorsement.
1.2. An economic evaluation report commissioned by the City of Hobart identifies clear economic and community value resulting from a refurbished facility in the city centre.
2. Report Summary
2.1. A replacement Information Booth for the Elizabeth Mall was identified in the 2010 Inner City Action Plan (ICAP).
2.2. In August 2015, the Council considered a recommendation to upgrade the booth in support of a new marketing strategy for the city centre. An amount of $100,000 for design and a contribution to the fabrication of the booth was approved at the Council meeting of 24 August 2015.
2.3. An expression of interest for co-funding of $100,000 for a new mall visitor information hub was submitted to the Department of State Growth Tourism Funding Program in August 2015 but was unsuccessful.
2.4. Since that time, a design has been developed by the City Design Unit that, based on an estimated $4000 per square metre, would fit within the $100,000 currently available for this project.
2.5. SGS Economics and Planning, in its report Visitor Information Booth – Economic Contribution September 2015, predicted a potential additional 39,000 users of a booth in the mall as a reflection of the growth in visitor numbers envisaged for Tasmania.
2.6. In addition, based on experience elsewhere, SGS identified a percentage of visitor users would lengthen the duration of their stay, resulting in additional visitor nights. Between 3 to 25 per cent of users would undertake more activities, thereby increasing demand for activities and services.
2.7. Some of the proponents of the new hotel developments when surveyed by SGS indicated that a visitor information service located at their doorstep would be used by their guests who are projected to be tourists from South-East Asia and China. Further, consultation with visitor economy stakeholders such as Business Events Tasmania and Destination Southern Tasmania suggests there is broad support for a visitor information and booking service to be located within the city centre to meet anticipated demand from the leisure and business visitor.
2.8. Occupation of the University's Melville Street apartment complex consisting of 430 apartments is planned for semester one in 2017 and will accommodate regional Tasmanian, interstate and international students, resulting in a potential growth of the ‘visiting friends and family’ visitor segment.
2.9. Services at the booth would not be limited to visitor information and bookings, with the booth’s location useful as a base for city centre promotions as well as for providing ‘what’s on’ information to encourage dispersal and economic benefits for events and the night time economy.
2.10. The project has been designed in such a way so as to limit any impacts on surrounding businesses. It is estimated that from the date of Council approval, the project will take eleven (11) weeks. Project elements include removal of the existing booth, fabrication of the proposed structure in three units, transportation and installation.
2.11. The design enables a visitor information and booking service to be delivered from the site, with provision for significant branding, improved customer interaction, storage and sanitary facilities for employees.
2.12. It is noted that a number of the items and systems contained in the existing mall booth are non-compliant or obsolete and their replacement will be funded from asset renewal sources.
2.13. A shop front information service associated with possible re-arcading work between Wellington Court and the Elizabeth Mall is still some time away.
1. The design for the upgraded Information Booth as shown as Attachment A to this report, be approved for construction and installation in Elizabeth Mall, at a budgeted cost of $100,000 to be met by the City Marketing Function within the 2016-17 and 2017-18 Annual Plans.
2. The General Manager be authorised, in accordance with Section 52 of the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993, to lodge a planning application for the digital screens to be used for the upgraded information booth.
4.1. A replacement Information Booth for the Elizabeth Mall was identified in the 2010 Inner City Action Plan (ICAP).
4.2. At its meeting held on 24 August 2015, the Council, when considering a proposed marketing strategy for the city centre, resolved inter alia the following:
‘An amount of $100,000, from the Plant and Equipment allocation for City Marketing in the 2015/2016 Annual Plan Carry Forwards, be endorsed for design and a contribution to the fabrication of a revitalised Elizabeth Mall Information Booth, and where possible additional funding for this project be sought.’
4.3. In line with the Council resolution, additional funding was sought through the 2015-16 Tourism Funding Program delivered by State Growth, however, this was unsuccessful.
4.4. An increase in tourism numbers is being forecast for Tasmania and it is suggested that the Elizabeth Mall Information Booth would provide a valuable over-flow visitor information and booking service for the Tasmanian Travel and Information Centre (TTIC), which is currently servicing 230,000 visitors per annum.
4.5. In the short term there is limited opportunity to expand the TTIC in its current configuration and location. It is noted that any opportunity to accommodate a shop front information service associated with re-arcading between Wellington Court and Elizabeth Mall is still some time away.
4.6. The mall is a central location where tourists naturally converge and seek assistance and it has been noted that an increasing number of visitors are expecting an information service beyond the capability of the existing staff who are Parking and Information Officers deployed to undertake shifts in the booth.
4.7. In considering the requirement for an upgraded information booth, the Council noted that around 1,000 new beds, situated at the perimeter of Hobart’s city centre, would be available within two years.
4.8. SGS Economics and Planning, in its report Visitor Information Booth – Economic Contribution September 2015, predicted a potential additional 39,000 users of a booth in the mall.
4.9. The city centre hotels currently under construction have been calculated to draw about 92,000 overnight visitors to the city centre. These visitors will likely represent an increase in spending of $98 million per annum, and a significant share of this spending will be in Hobart.
4.10. Further, based on experience elsewhere, SGS identified a percentage would lengthen the duration of their stay, resulting in additional visitor nights. Between 3 to 25 per cent of users would undertake more activities, thereby increasing demand for activities and services.
4.11. Some proponents of the hotel developments currently under development were interviewed by SGS Economics and Planning and advised that they expected that a revitalised Elizabeth Mall Information Booth, located at the doorstep of these hotels, would be used by their guests, who are predominantly tourists from South-East Asia and China.
4.12. Cruise ship visits to Hobart, carrying an increasing proportion of Australian domestic travellers, have increased by 90 per cent from 2015-16 to 2017-18 and forecasts indicate that this level of visitation should continue, further increasing the demand for tourist information in the city centre.
4.12.1. It is noted that the City is collaborating with Tourism Tasmania on a survey that is currently underway to examine cruise ship passenger spending and on-shore activities.
4.13. Consultation with visitor economy stakeholders (Business Events Tasmania, Destination Southern Tasmania, Australian Hotels Association, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, Port Arthur Historic Sites, Cruise Down Under) has been undertaken and there is broad support for a visitor information and booking service to be located within the city centre to meet anticipated demand from the leisure and business visitor.
4.14. Occupation of the University's Melville Street apartment complex consisting of 430 apartments is planned for semester one in 2017 resulting in a potential increase in the ‘visiting friends and family’ market segment. At the time of writing, 32 per cent of occupants are known to be international students.
4.14.1. It is understood that the nature of the tenancy agreements will require an annual changeover of students, with an associated requirement for information and support. The City has been meeting with university officers involved with the student housing complex and is collaborating across a range of initiatives.
4.15. A remodelled Elizabeth Mall Information Booth would be staffed by trained tourism personnel from the TTIC. This would mean that visitor information and booking services would be offered through this site.
4.16. Services at the booth would not, however, be limited to visitor information and bookings, with the booth’s location useful as a base for city centre competitions as well as for providing ‘what’s on’ information to encourage dispersal and economic benefits for events and the night time economy.
4.17. The city centre, whilst an intuitive location for visitors, is also a logical location in terms of proximity to public transport, including taxis, necessary for dispersal around greater Hobart.
4.18. A design has been developed by the City Design Unit that fits within the $100,000 budget currently available for this project. This design can be viewed as Attachment A to this report.
4.19. The project has been designed in such a way so as to limit any impacts on surrounding businesses, a communications plan would be developed to ensure disruption to affected traders is minimised and to encourage buy-in from the wider business community.
4.20. It is estimated that from the date of Council approval, the project will take eleven (11) weeks to complete. Project elements include removal of the existing booth, fabrication of the proposed structure in three units, transportation and installation.
4.21. Subject to the Council’s approval being provided in March, it would be possible and desirable to commence construction immediately so that the project would be completed well before the 2017-18 summer peak tourism period.
4.22. The design enables a visitor information and booking service to be delivered from the site, with provision for significant branding, improved customer interaction, storage and sanitary facilities for employees.
4.23. The project includes the replacement or upgrading of a number of electrical, electronic systems and climate control units associated with the safety and security of the booth and the general mall area. A number of the items and systems contained in the existing mall booth are non-compliant or obsolete and it is proposed that their replacement would be funded from asset renewal sources.
4.24. Notable features of the design include:
4.24.1. Significant glazed areas that allow high levels of oversight of Elizabeth Mall by officers.
4.24.2. LED television monitor screens and two wall mounted larger screens to feature relevant tourism messaging and carry paid advertising.
4.24.3. Visual illustrative images wrapping to external walls.
4.25. The LED television screens are not included in the construction budget and will be treated as an expense associated with the expanded operation of the TTIC.
4.26. The original information booth was installed in the Elizabeth Mall around 1995-96 and involved a police security presence. At that time the City’s parking officers held the responsibility of supervising delivery vehicle movements through the Mall, along with setting up public address systems and supervising performances, presentations and buskers. As a result of their existing responsibilities in the Mall, parking officers began operating the booth in 1996, shortly afterwards their position description was amended to include the booth operation in their list of duties along with a title change to ‘Parking and Information Officers’.
4.27. There is currently an increasing requirement for mall booth operators to provide specialist information, with a high percentage of enquiries relating to the purchase of tickets for tours, events and an expectation from customers that the booth is not only for information but acts as an agency as well. Consequently, Parking and Information Officers are increasingly seeking assistance from the TTIC and it has become apparent that resourcing of the booth should be more specialised.
4.28. It is therefore proposed that TTIC employees are utilised to staff the revitalised Elizabeth Mall Information Booth to offer specialised tourism knowledge coupled with a booking option.
5. Proposal and Implementation
5.1. It is proposed to fabricate a new information booth structure in accordance with the design drawings supplied as Attachment A to this report.
5.2. The structure would be fabricated off site as three units and installed in Elizabeth Mall. The overall project period is proposed to be eleven weeks and would be completed prior to the 2017-18 peak summer tourism period.
6. Strategic Planning and Policy Considerations
6.1. This initiative aligns with Capital City Strategic Plan 2015-2025 Goal 1 - Economic Development, Vibrancy and Culture ‘City growth vibrancy and culture comes when everyone participates in city life’.
Strategic Objective 1.3 - Vibrant city centre and suburban precincts.
‘1.3.2 - Develop and implement a program of city improvements supporting the major retail, commercial and hospitality precincts and small business.’
Strategic Objective 1.4 - An enriched visitor experience.
‘1.4.1 - Ensure Council owned assets reflect visitor requirements.’
7. Financial Implications
7.1. Funding Source and Impact on Current Year Operating Result
7.1.1. A provision for this project in the order of $100,000 is included in the City Marketing Function of the 2016-17 Annual Plan.
7.1.2. A proportion of this budget allocation would need to be carried forward to 2017-18 to meet the completion date early next financial year.
7.2. Impact on Future Years’ Financial Result
7.2.1. There would be an increase in annual depreciation from the current $200 per annum to $5,000 per annum.
7.2.2. A further $30,000 would be sought in the 2017-18 budget to cover asset renewals of items within the booth that are obsolete or require upgrade such as desks, computers and other related equipment.
7.3. Asset Related Implications
7.3.1. Upon removal of the existing asset there would be a write-off of approximately $12,000.
8. Legal, Risk and Legislative Considerations
8.1. The Elizabeth Mall Information Booth as shown on the attached drawings is exempt from the need to gain planning approval under clause 6.2.2 (b) of the Hobart Interim Planning Scheme 2015 with the exception of the digital screens, which would require a planning application in accordance with Section 52 of the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993.
9. Social and Customer Considerations
9.1. The design of the refurbished Elizabeth Mall Information Booth makes provision for all-abilities access. The current design is not accessible.
9.2. It is expected that the refurbishment would increase the use of the mall booth by local members of the community and be a focal point for city centre information.
9.3. Extended opening hours of the booth during peak visitation periods, would benefit those visitors who seek information about evening activities. In terms of activation, especially at night time, the booth would fit within a broader strategy of the City and the traders to activate the city and contribute to the night time economy.
9.4. The TTIC currently employs two Chinese language speakers who have the potential to work from the mall booth.
10. Marketing and Media
10.1. As reported to the Council in August 2015, an important facet of improving the visitor experience (local and from out-of-state) and providing a reason to visit the city centre would be to improve the functionality and usefulness of the Elizabeth Mall Information Booth.
10.2. The proposed design for the mall booth provides for prominent branding and the opportunity to promote specific messaging, as well as a digital screen to run advertisements and information.
10.3. The current mall booth is tired and unsightly, and due for refurbishment.
11. Community and Stakeholder Engagement
11.1. It is proposed that a communications plan is developed to ensure disruption to affected traders is minimised and to encourage buy-in from the wider business community.
11.2. Consultation with visitor economy stakeholders (Business Events Tasmania, Destination Southern Tasmania, Australian Hotels Association, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, Port Arthur Historic Sites, Cruise Down Under) has been undertaken and there is broad support for a visitor information and booking service to be located within the city centre.
11.3. This proposal was considered by the Tasmanian Travel and Information Centre Board at its meeting of 1 August 2016. The Board endorsed the progression of the matter for Council consideration.
11.4. Consultation has been undertaken with the Director City Planning, Executive Manager City Design and the Group Manager Parking Operations in the preparation of this report.
12.1. This matter is delegated to the Council.
As signatory to this report, I certify that, pursuant to Section 55(1) of the Local Government Act 1993, I hold no interest, as referred to in Section 49 of the Local Government Act 1993, in matters contained in this report.
Manager City Marketing
Director Community Development
Date: 21 February 2017
File Reference: F17/8511
Attachment a: Mall Booth Design ⇩