The Napier Council last week announced an election eve gift to its tourism lobby — $100,000 to be spent on luring travelers to Napier from Australia.
We look forward to seeing how they plan to do that … if there is a plan. And how they plan to measure the effectiveness of their $100,000 spend … if there is an evaluation plan. After all, Mayor Arnott claims her team will do a better job of tourism promotion than Venture Hawke’s Bay. Can’t wait to see her winning formula. I suspect the $100,000 might produce more votes than tourists.
Here’s a suggestion. Since the Aussies are an adventurous lot, how about appealing to them with a new slogan … Visit Napier, Art Deco and crime too.
Police statistics released over the weekend paint a grim picture. As reported in the DomPost:
The Eastern policing district, covering Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, had the most crime per head of population in New Zealand. Reported assaults were on a par with last year, at 3352, but were the highest per head of population in the country. Murders jumped from one to six, harassment charges climbed 24 per cent to 848, and drug-dealing charges leapt by 50 per cent to 177.
District manager of intelligence Tony Dewhirst said: “There’s a direct link between disadvantaged communities and crime, and we have some of the most disadvantaged in the country.”
He said an increase in family violence had pushed up the statistics heavily. Family violence reports had climbed by nearly 3500 in the past six years in response to society’s growing lack of tolerance for it and increased police resources put into tackling it, he said. “The concern is that, in disadvantaged societies, there tends to be less reporting, so it could be worse than it looks.”
Speaking of disadvantaged communities, the HB Chamber of Commerce just released a report indicating the HB economy is going backwards, even as the rest of NZ’s economy is slowly recovering from recession. Will this mean even more crime and domestic violence here?
And what about hunger?
Last Wednesday HB Today reported the surge in demand for help from the area’s food banks (increases of more than 30% from the previous year) and budgeting services (demand nearly doubling over two years). Napier Family Centre had 3.5 times more requests for food help than in 2008. Staff there reduced their hours and pay rates so that more assistance could be given to families in need.
And what does Napier City Council do? Throw another $100,000 at tourism marketing. The Chamber’s Murray Douglas seems to think this is a great “proactive” idea. More tourists spending $200-$300 per day “could turn the region around,” he says. Yeah, right.
The disadvantaged in our region need more — and need it more urgently — than “trickle down” benefits from a bit more tourism … if even that happens.
Hastings isn’t much better. When, in my annual plan submission earlier this year, I asked the Hastings Council to look into what I feared were the sharply escalating needs of our food banks, the official staff response actually was … they haven’t called us asking for more help, so they must not need any. So Councillors did nothing.
That’s “proactive” for you!
At last night’s candidate event in Havelock North, the three major contenders for the Hastings mayoralty each talked about the need to improve Hastings’ economic well-being, but no one offered much of a plan. Then the Havelock North candidates for HDC had their turn. Wayne Bradshaw noted that when his resolution aimed at making economic development the Council’s top priority for the coming year was put to a vote a few months back, only he and two other Councillors voted for it.
This is what happens when Councillors and Council staff — all of whose pay and budgets have increased over the last three years — live on different planets than the real people they serve!