In a victory for my blog and for our tourism industry the Waiheke Local Board has been forced to bow down to community pressure and retain their advocacy for the industry.
Had it not been for my blog on 4th February Tourists Not Welcome the community would not have been alerted to the folly in the Draft Local Board Agreement of removing advocacy for a “High profile for Waiheke and the Hauraki Gulf Islands within the Auckland Visitor Plan”.
This line had been deliberately inserted by the former Board in their 2013 Agreement following the adoption of the Visitor Plan in 2012 in order to continue our strong commitment to the industry.
I followed up the blog by contacting tourism industry groups like the Waiheke Winegrowers, and Waiheke Businesswomens' Group as well as the I-Site team and urged them to get into gear and make submissions against this outrageous piece of irresponsibility.
This they did in considerable numbers, so by the time the Board had its hearings the outrage from the community was overwhelming. It was obvious the Board couldn’t maintain the party line that removal of the advocacy was nothing more than a procedural matter, a line they were spinning as late as early April.
Deputy Chair, Shirin Brown, who stood for election on a platform of supporting local business but as soon as she was elected informed tourism personnel that Waiheke has more than enough tourists and doesn’t want any more, must have realised she was looking like a total amateur who was completely out of her depth. She suddenly took a back seat leaving the hapless John Meeuwsen to be the stooge on this issue.
Until the eleventh hour Meeuwsen was still maintaining the Board’s stance that removing the item was little more than a procedural matter. Now he’s the one left to explain why the Board got it wrong.