As though I have not said it enough, I will say again that Council should focus on core public services and infrastructure. If it was possible, I would vote to dispose of all the Council-controlled organisations that do not provide core services and use the proceeds from the sale to pay of some of Tauranga city's $400 million debt.
Unfortunately, following the Mount Hot Pools saga which occurred soon after I was elected into Council, I learnt that this is easier said than done.
I will be honest and admit that Tourism Bay Of Plenty which receives about $1 million funding a year, was not immune to my position. I could not see how, say, an old lady living in a little unit in Otumoetai could gain any benefits from her rates going to fund tourism marketing activities or having twice as many cruise passengers coming into the Port Of Tauranga.
This was until I was quietly educated by none other than the travel expert I live with, of course. In a nutshell, it was about the injection of foreign funds, whether from international tourists or visitors from other parts of New Zealand, contributing to Tauranga's economy.
I knew that. I just didn't think about it in that way but now I do.
I had learnt a while ago that our city is not featured by most coach tour companies in New Zealand. Where we are featured, we are either a pass-by place or a free day, giving the impression that there is nothing to do here. It bugs me that even Coromandel is included in coach tour itineraries more frequently than Tauranga. Don't get me wrong because I think Coromandel is quite beautiful but I don't get why Coromandel and not Tauranga.
Cruise ships are big business here yet I have also learnt that cruise companies feature most things Rotorua in the Tauranga port-of-call which explains the buses waiting to whisk passengers away when a cruise ship docks here for the day.
What's more, did you know that the largest online travel agent in the world says that the things-to-do in Tauranga is the Zorb (Rotorua) and a Harley Davidson tour of Hobbiton? Now why would they say that?
With Jiun living and breathing travel, I have also gained much interest in the potential of tourism for Tauranga and the Bay Of Plenty product. Earlier this year, I blogged about our city's potential in more ways than one, including tourism. I really do believe that we can be a world-class tourist destination. We really need to work on several things, no less the international hotel in the CBD.
With the new General Manager, Rhys Arrowsmith recently appointed to head Tourism Bay Of Plenty, I have renewed optimism that inbound tourism to our city and region will be much better featured and marketed especially by partners that already have an existing market base.
I look forward to positive developments at Tourism Bay Of Plenty, new market growth and increased tourist arrivals especially to Tauranga. When our friends from different parts of the world stop registering a blank look when Jiun and I tell them where we live, I will know then that we are well on our way.