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Auckland Council travel policy explained

Published: 13 October 2017

Auckland Council group has strict policies for approving international travel, with a strong focus on the prudent use of ratepayers' money and on using the most cost-effective options available.

As New Zealand’s largest local authority, representing the biggest region and population, there are times when travel is necessary.

This includes meetings with overseas councils and organisations; representing Auckland as part of official business or sister city delegations; negotiations with international promoters or organisations that will bring business to Auckland; attendance at global forums like C40; securing and negotiating financial instruments that help fund our activities when supporting complex procurement programmes like the new electric trains; and doing work to deliver crucial projects for the region such as the City Rail Link.

Policy drives travel decisions

It is the council’s policy to travel only when necessary and only for business-related activities. This policy also applies to council-controlled organisations (CCOs).

The most direct routes on the lowest-cost option available must always be taken and alternatives to travel, such as teleconferencing or videoconferencing, are always considered.

All long-haul international travel must be approved by tier two management, or by the chief executive in the case of tier two manager travel, and bookings are subject to special rates the council has negotiated with airlines to ensure best value for money.

Over the last 20 months, international travel costs for Auckland Council and its CCOs was $1,046,612.89 (excluding Watercare and Auckland Transport).

For Auckland Council only, excluding council-controlled organisations, expenditure on travel has been decreasing year on year. Over the last two financial years the council’s international travel costs were $660,382 (2014/15) and $449,656 (2015/16).

Business-class travel

Economy class is our preferred and most-frequent option for travel. However, when long-haul international travel is longer than eight hours and business will be carried out within 24 hours of arrival, without an opportunity for rest, then business-class can be considered.  

There were 63 business-class trips carried out between January 2016 and August 2017. Business-class trips are defined as flights booked and paid for as one round-return trip. These may be made up of a number of connecting or multi-stop flights and are paid for under a single booking.

 Auckland Council Group business class trips* 

Number of return business class trips – January 2016 to August 2017

   

Auckland Council

17

Panuku Development Auckland

10

Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA)

32

ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development)

4

Total

63


*excluding Auckland Transport and WaterCare Ltd

Note: There were a number of business class trips which have previously been counted and reported incorrectly (as more than one flight) and some trips, which have been reimbursed or on-charged, that are not counted in these totals.

Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) responds

RFA manages five separate businesses (Auckland Live, Auckland Conventions, Auckland Zoo, Auckland Stadiums and Auckland Art Gallery) all of which have an international focus and undertake significant commercial activity in order to deliver on RFA’s Statement of Intent.  

This activity includes negotiations with international promoters to bring events to Auckland, working with galleries and collections throughout the world to present large international exhibitions, and attending trade shows to showcase the iconic venues that we manage and secure conventions business. RFA funds third-party travel when it contributes to business objectives and when part of a negotiated commercial agreement.  

Approximately 70 per cent of RFA’s funding is received from commercial sources and investment in attracting this revenue, including international travel, is essential to supporting RFA’s commercial remit.  Auckland Conventions, New Zealand’s largest conventions business, receives no public funding and yet generates approximately $10 million annual revenue to RFA, in addition to positive economic contributions brought to the Auckland economy. RFA is also a key participant in international conservation programmes associated with species at Auckland Zoo.   

RFA sells over $110,000,000 tickets a year (and generates a further $67,000,000 in direct commercial revenue) to live theatre and entertainment. International travel costs amounted to less than 0.1 per cent of acquiring that business. 

Travel costs are offset by the revenue generated as a result of the commercial venue hire negotiations and agreements reached.  

A proportion of RFA senior staff travel is funded by other private and public entities, including Creative New Zealand and sponsorship and grants associated with specific programmes of work that have an Australasian or international component such as touring exhibitions and live performance. 

ATEED’s global role 

ATEED’s annual operating budget for the 2016/17 financial year was approximately $57.5 million. With this budget the organisation was responsible for delivering against five key priority areas on behalf of Auckland Council: 

  • Build a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Attract business and investment
  • Grow and attract skilled talent
  • Grow the visitor economy
  • Build Auckland’s brand and identity. 

Some of the targets for these priority areas included expanding the visitor economy to more than $8 billion annually by 2021, annual targets for 2016/17 of attracting $278 million of international deals through business and investment including the screen sector, and $1.88 billion annual value from international students based in Auckland. 

To achieve its publicly stated targets, some ATEED staff are on occasion required to travel offshore to do business in our key markets. 

This travel includes being part of multi-agency trade delegations, and attending key global conferences or trade shows to grow connections and secure deals for Auckland’s key growth industry sectors which include international education, food and beverage, ICT and digital media, screen production, high-value tourism, marine and advanced materials. They are also required to travel to present bids for major sporting events.

 

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