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Bibby's warning about cruise ships

GISBORNE is in serious danger of losing its lucrative cruise ship business, local man Clive Bibby believes.

Mr Bibby, who played a large part in the restoration of the Tolaga Bay Wharf, believes that tourism is the only sector that has potential to grow the local economy, but he doubts that enough is being done to develop it.

Gisborne faces intense competition for cruise ships from ports like Napier, where 70 are expected to call this year, he said.

That includes the massive Ovation of the Seas, which berthed there last Thursday, something it could not do in Auckland.

By contrast, the last visit to Gisborne by a cruise ship was abandoned because of the difficulties of transferring people from the bay to shore, and another recent one was almost called off for similar reasons.

Although Eastland Port has consistently said the port is not deep enough to harbour the large cruise ships, Mr Bibby said the problem would be solved if the port company allowed cruise ships to berth here.

“They have all the excuses why this cannot happen, such as not enough draft and interfering with the log shipping schedule, but those excuses are lame,” he said.

He claims there is also not enough for passengers to do here. This has combined to create a risk that the cruise ship operators will take Gisborne off their schedule because Gisborne can't withstand the competition from Napier.

Tourism only economic game changerThat is disastrous because tourism is the only possible economic “game changer”.

The District Council has given Tourism Eastland and Activate Tairawhiti the green light to act on some of the recommendations from two major investigations commissioned last year: the inner harbour redevelopment and some of the navigations projects.

“My concern is about the speed and extent of this work,” he said.

In a presentation to the final council meeting of the year Mr Bibby made a number of suggestions.

Local iwi should be invited to join with the council as joint managers of additional developments.

Their approval and guidance should be sought for two key projects for developing important sites within the city area, a replica fortified pa on Kaiti Hill and a heritage pavilion, the main function of which would be to display the dual cultural heritage of the region.

He also believes the council should revisit its plans for the redevelopment of the inner harbour and drop any "wasteful expenditure" such as the “bridge to nowhere” across the Turanganui River.

“From a tourism perspective the money would be better spent extending the Oneroa walkway to the Waipaoa River mouth," he said.

"Locals will gain the benefit of that development to a far greater extent than from any money spent on the inner harbour bridge and it will be immediate.

“I am waiting for a response to my recommendations from the council. I respectfully hope they would not ignore them, we can’t afford to be that stupid."

TWO SHOTS: Clive Bibby is trying for a seat on Gisborne District Council, and Hauora Tairawhiti.