Bob Jones on Goff’s bed tax

Bob Jones cuts loose on Phil Goff and assorted local body wombles:

[T]ourism?s financial benefits are hugely exaggerated as it also carries numerous hidden costs. Low paid, low skilled jobs aside, arguably it?s main financial value is helping offset the possibly greater cost of New Zealanders? foreign travel. Regardless, tourism?s current top dog foreign earnings status is not something to be pleased about. Far better that mantle was held by higher value products and services activities. An exaggeration to be sure but it?s a bit akin to 17th century West Africa boasting of its burgeoning slave exports.

I?d suggest the extent to which tourists do come to Auckland is largely attributable to a category of visitors who visit our remote country as a ?oncer? and do the lot from top to bottom. Readers may not believe this but there?s quite a tourist industry in Bluff for God?s sake, capturing those top to bottom visitors. Thus Lands End in Cornwall which incidentally, was owned by a Wellington company in the 1980?s, has a solid visitor industry, as does John O?Groats, Bluff?s equivalent in the north. There?s no other reason to visit either place.

But why does the Council involve itself in this activity for which it?s utterly unsuited, not the least for having no direct skin in the game? How many tourists actually stay in Auckland?s hotels and motels? As a regular visitor for nearly six decades, I?d venture very few. Of course with conferences, rugby tours and the like there?s heaps of visitors but they?re not there as tourists.

With all due respect to the Queen city, it?s not and never will be a meaningful tourist destination. Pleasant though it is in numerous ways to reside in, by world standards, tourist-wise it?s relatively uninteresting. I?m told the majority of its cruise ship visitors drive down to Rotorua, only Kelly Tarlton?s drawing some.

The capital receives over 100 cruise ships each year. There?s lots to see and do thus their occupants, principally retired Woolongong plumbers and their wives category of visitors, unlike in Auckland, are very visible on the city?s crowded streets. So too in Napier with now over 70 cruise ship yearly visits. In short Auckland holds little tourist appeal and hitting largely unaffected hoteliers for promotion costs is appalling.

Bob, as usual, is at his insulting best.

Commenting on the Auckland bed-tax carry-on, former Wellington city councillor Rex Nicholls wrote a letter to the Dominion Post sympathising with Auckland?s hoteliers and asking why they were hit on given restaurants, bars and shops were also beneficiaries. They?re not actually but I?ll come to that.

Rex went on to commend to Auckland, Wellington?s down-town levy, this a tax on CBD office building owners to fund the Council?s tourist promotion efforts, which as an aside, are notoriously inept.

Unfortunately, the no-hopers at the Dom? decided to abridge Rex?s letter and remove mention of Rex being a fringe location hotel part owner, of being married to Kerry Prendergast, the former mayor who promoted this scheme and who?s chief advisor was also a fringe small hotel owner.? I am of course assuming Rex, as a man of integrity, actually mentioned all of that in his letter and the Dom? decided to delete it. Rex should sue the bastards for making him appear so dishonest.

That said, I would like Rex to explain precisely how I, as the owner of the most CBD office-buildings, gain value from this tax.? Should he try, then please don?t talk about caf? and restaurant tenants benefitting.

We have many and I?ve asked them. All insist they never see tourists. Furthermore I believe them because often driving to the city around midday, passing those cruise liners I see those retired Woolongong plumbers walking back the lengthy distance to their ships, solely for the free lunches. Indeed it was after first noting that and a few days later over dinner with Kerry, I ventured to her as, among her many current hats, chair of the government tourism body, that the financial value from tour ships was overstated. She confirmed that?s the case.

Heh, I love it when Bob attacks someone.

In my company?s Wellington building portfolio we have circa 400 commercial, government, retail, national body, professional and embassy lessees. Rex is welcome to look at those tenancy schedules and if he can find a single one that gains a penny from tourists, I will take up nude line-dancing, indeed so confident am I in his inability to do this, I?ll go further and subject myself to a tortuously cruel punishment and attend a rugby league match, which is really going out on a masochistic limb.

Far from advocating this utterly corrupt Wellington scheme to Aucklanders, Rex should hang his head in shame as presumably one of its architects.

In a more leisurely age, local body politics attracted people of proven calibre. That?s no longer the case in our highly competitive, hyper-active world, thus competent people not having the time, local body politics has largely become a refuge for screaming no-hopers, driven, I have no doubt by financial motives.

Adding to that disastrous situation, many local government employees are notoriously inept, thus this sort of activism?s dangers are even more alarming.

Managing our towns and cities should be confined to the basics of roads, sewage and such-like and not venturing into social and economic fields beyond such peoples? competence. Underlying all of this is that old saw of other peoples? money.

The time is long overdue for central government to prescribe strict limits on the role of local government.

Here, here and so say all of us.