Sunday, June 5, 2011

Regulating Motel Sex

As the Rugby World Cup looms we have commented about the Commerce Commission that are scouring online travel agency sites to ensure that motel operators are not displaying "misleading or deceptive conduct, false representations and unfair practices in trade."

We now see that another government department is committing resource to crack down on those mythical unscrupulous moteliers.

Immigration New Zealand is threatening motel operators with huge fines and imprisonment if they inadvertently let their rooms to foreign prostitutes. Apparently Immigration New Zealand will be allowing a surge of overseas sex workers to flood into the country to meet the increase in demand from testosterone fuelled Rugby World Cup supporters. Immigration New Zealand will be closely monitoring sexual services offered by visitors working illegally and allegedly staying in motels.

According to the Prostitution Reform Act:
No visa may be granted under the Immigration Act 2009 to a person on the basis that the person:
(a) has provided, or intends to provide, commercial sexual services; or 
(b) has acted, or intends to act, as an operator of a business of prostitution; or 
(c) has invested, or intends to invest, in a business of prostitution.
It is therefore illegal for visitors that have been issued visas, such as tourists and students, to work in the sex industry and Immigration New Zealand have suggested that motel operators should be checking the immigration status of their guests.

The bizarre situation of moteliers being required to suddenly apply the blowtorch to their guests by checking their immigration papers and by insinuation asking if they will be operating commercial sexual services from their unit is hilarious. Maybe guests should be required to tick Yes/No boxes discretely added to motel guest registration forms and online booking sites to ascertain if a guest has permanent residency status and if they will be charging for sexual activity performed during their stay?

As a motelier I consider myself to be in the hospitality industry and will not be burdening guests with silly questions that includes querying their residential status. 

Like most motels, we take the view that we simply do not wish to host working girls that solicit their services to the masses. I respect that they are using a lot of initiative and are serving a valid demand - after all this is capitalism 101 in action here. However I am more than happy for them to ply their trade...somewhere else. Like most motels, we take the view that we do not want the unsavoury reputation as it is not a good look, the comings and goings of clients in the night can create disturbance to other guests and the clean-up afterwards is not worth it.

Some motel operators can sometimes slip-up from time to time and once it becomes obvious that a working girl has managed to sneak-in after a regular stream of nervous looking visitors come calling, she is asked to go usually without any fuss. 

In a typical situation I can't imagine that the average motel operator could breach the Immigration Act unless they are knowingly and habitually hosting foreign nationals specifically for the purpose of providing commercial sexual services from their property.

These scare tactics by Immigration New Zealand directed at moteliers is yet another example of a government department that appears to have too much time on their hands by creating a crisis where there is no cause or victims.

In these austere economic times, Immigration New Zealand seems to me to be a worthy target crying out for a budget cut...

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