It was a quiet, low key resignation that merited a few lines in today's Herald which simply stated
"Tourism New Zealand said chief executive George Hickton is stepping down after 10 years in the role.
Hickton is resigning to allow a replacement to settle in before the 2011 Rugby World Cup is hosted in New Zealand, the agency said."
A few words but they speak volumes - his resignation and the Rugby World Cup are the only things mentioned in the statement. No thanks at all for a guy who'd spent 10 years in a role that oversaw the tourism business expand exponentially in NZ and the most successful tourism campaign of all time - Saachi's '100% Pure NZ'.
In a recent video on YouTube he gave no indication at all that he had any intention of leaving Tourism NZ, or that he wouldn't be around to see it through to next year.
Remember the furore that Mathieu Bastareaud caused when he made the allegation of a street attack in Wellington? (he refused to make an official complaint to the police, who investigated it anyway) At the time Mr Hickton said the incident was a 'wake-up call for the country.'
Mr Hickton seemed to have taken M. Bastareaud's complaint in good faith, after all attacks on tourists in New Zealand are hardly unusual. His statement simply echoed those made in the past which followed attacks on tourists, such as those issued by a Tourism NZ 'spokeswoman', Tourism West Coast general manager Sonya Matthews and Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism marketing general manager Dean Gorddard in this press article: Another Tourist Attack In New Zealand - Attack sparks tourist warning
Apr 23, 2008
"With another tourist recovering from an seemingly unprovoked attack, tourism leaders are urging operators not to be afraid of warning people of the risks of travelling in New Zealand".And of course there are the safety warnings that were issued to Asian and Dutch tourists.
Now that Mr Hickton has 'fallen on his sword' who within New Zealand will have the courage to voice their concerns next time a tourist is killed or injured and call for better information to be given to visitors?
"Lessons from the no-so-friendly isles"
"In general, it is not a bad place to live or visit and has many pluses - but it ain't the happy-friendly cove of wonderfulness that the PR mob would have you believe either. There are wrong times and places in this country and it can be downright dangerous. A wrong look here, a dodgy remark here, and you might be up the proverbial without a paddle........."
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