Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Mike Hosking: Time for the Government to clean up the Rotorua mess

A forgotten part of the Rotorua mess are the tourism operators. They have this week, quite rightly, charged the Government with wrecking their town and its reputation.

The Government will try and tell you that Rotorua and its mess is really just confined to Fenton Street. But as anyone who knows anything about brand reputation will tell you, a reputation is hard won and easily lost.

What's so sad and tragic about the Rotorua story is all of this has been beyond the operators’ control.

Grant Robertson was asked about it and he gave the usual dismissive puffery around how they had put money into housing. That is true but has nothing to do with tourism.

They had also given money to tourism, which is also true. How much of that is Rotorua specific I don’t know, but tourism generally didn’t get treated well during Covid and the likes of Franz Josef, glacier country, and Central Otago, screamed for fairly minimal response.

Robertson also talked of the Provincial Growth Fund. When you are harking back to last Government funding you are clutching at straws.

The simple truth is this Government and their social housing programme is a disaster.

It's 27,000 people long and growing. State housing isn't anywhere close to being enough nor will it ever be. There's been no proper expansionary use of private providers. We've got houses for life and no one getting evicted no matter how bad they are.

And the Rotorua version of it poisoning the town to the point that everyone knows about Rotorua for all the wrong reasons.

How do you run a business against that backdrop? Do the borders being open really mean a lot to you if your reputation is shot? Does our overall reputation get damaged if, God forbid, some unsuspecting foreigner stays at the wrong motel and doesn’t know what's hit them?

Rotorua until recently has been the Government's great hidden secret. Yes, we had heard, but it was out of sight and out of mind.

The council and its mayor were a bunch of apologists. The Government told us nothing to see here.

Meantime, the grafters and the small business operators were bleeding. No one seems to care, far less those in Wellington that parked the misery at their doorstep.

At last, the operators are calling the Government out and good on them. They want them to fix the damage, don’t we all.

Mike Hosking is a New Zealand television and radio broadcaster. He currently hosts The Mike Hosking Breakfast show on NewstalkZB on weekday mornings.

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