Challenge for i-Site

Cambridge’s i-Site faces an uncertain future with the resignation of its chief executive, the loss of a major income stream and indecision about future council funding.

Michelle ‘Miff’ Macdiarmid has resigned from Destination Cambridge, the organisation which operates the i-Site.

Miff Macdiarmid

Sources suggest one of the major reasons behind her decision to leave after five years is funding uncertainty.

She would not comment on that, referring The News to a statement she made to the organisation’s members on Monday.

The Cambridge Town Hall Trust is taking over bookings for the hall from Destination Cambridge on July 1 while Waipā District Council has delayed a decision over whether to pull its annual funding of nearly $150,000.

Service level agreements between the council and two i-Sites in Cambridge and Te Awamutu were reviewed in 2021 with both given 18 months – which ends on June 30 – to define their promotional roles.

Customer and Community Services group manager Sally Sheedy told The News she was in the process of extending the current service level agreement to next year. A decision on future funding would be made sometime during that period.

Destination Te Awamutu and Destination Cambridge will both get $147,868 for the 2023-24 financial year. Hamilton-Waikato Tourism gets $171,864.

The council also paid Destination Cambridge a management fee to take Town Hall bookings – $19,100 last financial year – and covered the rent. Those will no longer be paid.

Revenue from the hall in a Covid-impacted year was nearly $17,000 – well down on 2018’s $30,000.

Kirsty Johnson

Town Hall Trust chair Kirsty Johnson said collecting rent from Destination Cambridge was one of the things being considered towards making the hall a more commercially viable community asset.

This includes seeking a market valuation for the space currently occupied by Destination Cambridge.

“No decisions have been made and we will be working with Destination Cambridge and the council before taking any further steps,” she said.

Destination Cambridge CEO Miff Macdiarmid flanked by Dick Breukink, left, and chair Martin Buglass.

Destination Cambridge chair Martin Buglass confirmed he was aware the Town Hall trust had done a rent appraisal for their own administration purposes.

“We are not aware of any charges at this time.”

A source told The News the organisation was determined to continue its operations in Cambridge having got over the humps presented by Covid since March 2020. Retail sales, Covid business payments and wage subsidies have helped it get through the tough times and finish with a $40,000 surplus at the end of the financial year in June last year.

It would continue to focus on promoting Cambridge, the source said.

The News understands Ruth Crampton, named as Destination Cambridge chief executive this week, is on a short term contract pending the various reviews.

Crampton was Marketing and Communications director at St Peter’s School in Cambridge until recently.

Before that she worked at Tourism Rotorua and owned a luxury bed and breakfast in the city.

In a role before that as inbound sales manager for Qantas Airways, Crampton worked closely with Tourism NZ, regional tourism organisations and offshore offices to promote New Zealand as a destination.

Macdiarmid is joining Cambridge-based agricultural company Shoof International.

“(I) look forward to looking on from afar and enjoying seeing how Cambridge thrives in the visitor market.”

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