Chamber doubts value of Mishima visit
Should be sending business peopleISOBEL EWING
Taranaki's Chamber of Commerce boss is questioning claims a New Plymouth District Council trip to Mishima will build overseas business links.
The council is paying for four people to travel to New Plymouth's Japanese sister-city, Mishima, and Mayor Harry Duynhoven said the trip was a good investment.
But chamber chairman Grant McQuoid said if the council wanted to develop business links, it should be sending business people.
"In my opinion, the people attending are more from a cultural and relationship side than a business base," he said yesterday.
"That implies the business side is not clearly understood or articulated."
He said the chamber wasn't sending any representatives, because it could not see the value of spending member's funds on the trip.
He said when the Chamber of Commerce was advised of the trip it contacted its members to find out the level of interest in terms of building business relationships.
Only one member expressed an interest - Withers Coachlines' Blair Withers, who was paying his own travel expenses, Mr McQuoid said.
He said the lack of interest shown by the chamber's members led to the decision that in tough economic times the chamber could not see the value of spending member's funds on the trip.
But he said the trip could generate business if done correctly.
"If the council sees it as worthwhile as a business venture, the council should be funding it.
"If you want to take it to the next level you need to be clear on strategy and purpose and fulfil that purpose with the right people."
Bizlink Hawera Inc chairman Andy Beccard said if the trip was planned carefully it could be good for the district.
"There are opportunities for companies within our district to link with companies there."
He travelled to South Taranaki's sister city of Harbin, China earlier this year, where South Taranaki has an office.
"There's great opportunities. Things may not happen straight away but any links straight to their district have to be good," Mr Beccard said. "You just have to be very careful not to spend a huge amount."
He said he found his own trip to Harbin worthwhile. "It gives us a foot in the door. If I wanted to import stuff for the office, it's very good having someone over there who can assist, not only with import but with export, too."
- Taranaki Daily News
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