Tourism is the life blood of the Waiheke economy. We are, frankly, nothing without it except a retirement village for the wealthy. As astute business owner and President of Waiheke Winegrowers, Rob Meredith, pointed out on social media when asked if he is concerned by the Local Board’s anti-tourism stance.
“Of course…and I am not alone in that. If people were to think through the full economic ramifications of stifling the tourism industry, then every Waiheke Island business owner and anyone who works on the island or enjoys access to its shops, cafes, restaurants and other facilities should be concerned.
Every Waiheke community and local board in the last twenty years, except this one, has put its limited resources into building long term assets that improve the infrastructure of the island. This benefits both those who live here and those who visit. It’s a win/win. After all that is what rates are for - roads, parks, libraries and community facilities.
What rates are not for is providing social services, health and education. That is the role of central government.
So what happens when a Board goes bad and fails to meet the needs and aspirations of its community but, worse, ends up threatening the community’s very existence?
Fortunately the damage the Waiheke Local Board can do is tempered by the vesting of much of Council’s budget in CCOs (council controlled organisations) such as Auckland Transport (AT) and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED). CCOs have two enormous advantages over the Council’s own dysfunctional organisation. They have their own Boards of Directors and contain expertise from the business world.
ATEED’s role in the future of Auckland is key. They are the economic powerhouse driving Auckland forward. Waiheke remains an integral part of their plan despite the move by the Waiheke Local Board to ditch their advocacy for tourism within ATEED’s Auckland Visitor Plan.
This week the Mayor delivered a blow to our Green Party Board's lack of vision for Waiheke tourism with this press release
Auckland's tourism agency (ATEED) has increased its revenue targets to 2021 by more than $1.2 billion, on the back of a record summer.
Then this government announced in the Herald
Economy's second-biggest export earner growing, driven by rises from Germany and US despite high dollar.
The role Waiheke plays in the Auckland tourism plan is bigger than this Board. If the Board continues to show a lack of commitment to Auckland’s growth then at some stage Auckland Council will question the need for a separate Board for Waiheke. That’s what happens when a board goes bad.
Getting off-side with both the mayor and government and not pulling its weight might well lead to the conclusion that a board gone bad is a board not worth having at all.