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Mike's Minute: Our reputation as a tourist destination is under threat

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 4 Jul 2022, 9:40am

Mike's Minute: Our reputation as a tourist destination is under threat

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 4 Jul 2022, 9:40am

We do, at least, have a tangible out of the Prime Minister's trip to Europe.

But over the weekend she drifted back into that dangerous habit of saying stuff she can't back up.

We have a trade deal. It's not the best deal ever, but it’s a deal, and it's better than what we had, so that’s good. And she actually said something tangible against China which is to be admired.

But she reverted to her go-to speech on tourism and how we are open and want tourists to buy a ticket and come see us. Nothing wrong that that, except for the fact we aren't up to it.

Does she not realise that flying half way round the world to a country where the airports aren't open the way they should, mask rules are confusing for locals far less foreigners, and hotels make you do your own cleaning, is not a package that is going to serve us well?

The trick to good product launch, which essentially is what this is, is to have your ducks lined up. The trick is to have your product polished and set to go, have it road tested and up to speed, then get out and sell it for all its worth.

We have a labour crisis in this country and it is most keenly felt in tourism and hospitality. Restaurants and cafes can't open the way they want to. What does a tourist make of that?

Hotels can't get the cleaners; the service isn't up to what it should be.

As a domestic traveller, I've seen all of this and more this year. This country is in second, possibly third, gear. It's struggling. You shouldn’t be out on the world stage offering the idea that we are what we once were because we aren't.

Making it even more dangerous is the fact the people she is talking to in Europe are required to become long haulers. This isn't a Mediterranean jaunt or a ferry trip to France for the day. This is a major logistical exercise both in time and expense.

It has to, for many, be the experience of the lifetime. Word of mouth is what drives tourism. It's what made us so good previously. It was worth the trip, it was worth the time zones and jet lag. It was spectacular.

We aren't spectacular at the moment or anywhere near close to it.

We can want all the tourists in the world and wouldn’t it be great? It was one of our top two foreign income earners.

But you only rip people off once. It's very Ardern to gloss over the reality and spin the theory.

When we are ready, let's rip into it. But until then, let's at least be honest about where we are actually at, which isn't all that flash.