Coastal News - January 2016

Columns
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I want to wish all Coastal News readers a very happy and successful 2016.

The start of a new year is the time we often reflect on what has gone before and our goals for the future. It’s like a fresh start ruling a line underneath the previous year.

So what are the priorities and what can Whangamata and the rest of the Coromandel electorate expect of the government in 2016?

One top priority is the continued push to ensure we all benefit from better public services.

We’ve set bold targets in the past and for the future to reduce crime and welfare dependency while at the same time improving educational and health outcomes.

Just before Christmas a reduction in motor vehicle levies was announced. This means the annual licence levy for cars will fall from the current average of about $194.00 to $139.00 per vehicle. This will be welcome for everyone who owns car and the average $55.00 saving on each car won’t go amiss by staying in your wallet.

In March we will have the final referendum about whether we change our flag. Coromandel people have strong views and they like to express them. I was pleased in the first referendum that Coromandel had the highest North Island voter turnout at 57.48% while the national average was 48%. We all have our own views on whether the flag should be changed or not. That’s why it’s really important everyone get involved in the discussion and vote. This is the first time in our history voters have had a chance to have a say in which flag we should have. I think it’s unlikely we will get such an opportunity again for at least a generation or more.

We have to consider the two flags side by side, about which one represents us as a nation now and into the future. If you didn’t vote in the first referendum I seriously urge you to do so in the final decision.

Even with a few wet days, it has been more than obvious that higher than usual numbers of visitors have holidayed and enjoyed the Coromandel during the Christmas and New Year period. Nationwide the tourism sector has been catering for its biggest summer yet after significant spring growth - international arrivals were up over 11 per cent for November.

Last year delivered our biggest tourism results on record with arrivals and spend both hitting new highs. Many New Zealanders are aware of the tourism industry’s value to our economy, not all know quite how highly it ranks.

It is now our country’s biggest services export which means more jobs, income and economic value for the whole country and locally as well. Here on the Coromandel international tourism expenditure is worth in excess of $70m while domestic tourism is $300m.