Mayor hits back at Japan trip critics
Just hours back from a sister city visit to Japan, New Plymouth Mayor Harry Duynhoven has taken a snipe at those who said it was a waste of time.
The district council paid as much as $16,000 for the mayor and three others to fly to Mishima for a three-day sister city visit last week.
They were accompanied by business man Blair Withers, of Withers Coachlines, who remains in Japan.
The trip was criticised by Taranaki Chamber of Commerce chairman Grant McQuoid who said if the council wanted to develop business links, it should have sent business people.
Accompanying the mayor were international relations working party chairman Lynn Bublitz, cultural adviser Trenton Martin and international relations co-ordinator Julie Straka.
Mr McQuoid said they were more suitable for the cultural and relationship side than to develop a business base.
"To say I am a little bit disappointed in the Chamber of Commerce is a little bit of an understatement because of the seriousness with which their business community and our Government took it," Mr Duynhoven said.
"Anyone who is critical of the small amount of money spent is not looking at the long term. If you are Fortress New Plymouth and you don't want to engage then one thing is for sure. You won't see any benefit."
The trip included tours of Nihon University's Mishima campus and an evening event with members of the businesses community was attended by New Zealand's Ambassador to Japan.
Like New Plymouth, the city was looking at building commercial opportunities from the relationships built up over the 20 years of the sister city connection, Mr Duynhoven said.
"We have a good track history and having had a number of successful visits they, like us, are looking to add value and adding value is developing commercial links as well. And not just with them but with other cities they are connected with. They have six sister cities.
"They are a trading nation and they know you can't have trade without relationships."
The cost for each of the four was estimated at $3000 to $4000 covering economy class airfares and transport and accommodation costs in Japan.
Mr Withers covered his own costs.
Taranaki Daily News