Sir Bob commences his opinion piece by mocking John Key's decision to take on the "low-ranked tourism portfolio" suggesting that this is not a worthy choice for a serious career-minded politician.
While acknowledging that tourism contributes nearly $2 billion to the economy every month, Sir Bob has a grumble about what the net benefits may actually be?
"...tourist-related businesses produce notoriously meagre returns and tourism jobs are mainly semi-skilled and thus low paid".The next subject of scorn is the often overstated benefits of cruise ship visits and Sir Bob makes an observation in Wellington that after cruise passengers are are bussed to the museum and go up the cable car..."large numbers troop back to the ship at lunchtime rather than pay for lunch in the numerous restaurants and coffee-houses".
"Add intangible costs costs such as sewage, road wear and tear, petrol and other related imports, police and search-and-rescue expenses finding missing trampers, which seems a monthly occurrence, hospital costs and so on, and financially, tourism is not quite what it's cracked up to be."
The final target for Sir Bob's acid has the potential to be rather controversial and this maybe the reason why I'm unable to immediately find today's column online? The touchy subject of crime against tourists is raised and characteristically, Sir Bob wades-in boots-n-all....
"Sooner or later a foreign journalist will research our tourist crimes history and write a sensationalist account, pointing out that on a pro-rata basis , New Zealand is statistically the most dangerous popular tourist destination in the world - which beyond question it is".So what can be done?
"Why not legislate that crimes against tourists automatically yield double the maximum sentences. That should produce a sharp improvement in what is nothing less than a scandalous national embarrassment".Helped by a few recent high-profile criminal cases involving tourists, Sir Bob's shocking pontification of New Zealand's alleged high crime-risk may seem to be feasible at first glance, however we suspect he is somewhat wide of the mark.
I suspect that Sir Bob's column today will spark further debate and others will be lining-up to counter the sensationalist allegation that New Zealand is "the most dangerous popular tourist destination in the world".
Wherever New Zealand stands in world rankings, the serious consequences of negative publicity involving crimes against tourists is something that should be considered. Sir Bob's pragmatic solution to lessen the risk should at least upset the left-wing, criminal-hugging, academic-theorists - we like that!