“IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY…”

Dear Editor:

The economic engine that drives any successful economy is small business. It is the job of our political leadership to create and foster a healthy business environment, creating a fertile base for development and job creation. Therein lies our problem. For the last 40 years or more there has been a total disconnect between the Administration and small business entrepreneurs. (The “Private Sector”)

We have a self-serving bloated bureaucracy legislating destructive revenue measures that unwittingly create a toxic business environment. Add to that immigration policies that defy logic, unfathomable non-productive multi-million-dollar spending on a government bank, container scanner and high-tech ship. All under the guise of Economic Development!

Our leaders keep beating the same old drum — airfares are too high for tourism development — problems facing the canneries — reduced Federal funding, etc. But we don't hear our neighboring islands complaining of any of these things!

Our political mindset must change. We have by far the best harbor in the South Pacific. Why isn't it buzzing with activity — Marina — yacht club — restaurants — bars — small boat repair yard?

The answer is no vision from our leadership. 

Constructive ideas are continuously suggested but absolutely nothing happens.

And tourism. The United States is not our primary tourism customer — Samoa, Australia and New Zealand are. We have several superb hotel sites available. The old Rainmaker site and the old government housing area in Tafuna for example.  Far more inviting and picturesque sites than the hugely successful multi-national destination resort area of Denarau, Fiji! 

Apart from no vision from our leadership, current immigration policies have destroyed any chance of investment in tourism.

A simple example of the self-serving attitude of our leadership is there for all to see, curbside at the arrival area at the airport. From the arrival ramp, turn right and what do you see? Not a taxi pickup area, not a hotel shuttle pickup area, but a coned-off area that is designated — wait for it — ASG directors, Fono leaders and airport employees! Lack of concern for visitors starts right there in a classic display of arrogance.

It does not have to be this way.

Tom Drabble

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