Richard Moore: iPort giving visitors positive bearing

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It is really good to see the new i-Port facility is in operation down at Port of Tauranga.

The i-Port is created out of shipping containers and is a first-up window into what the Bay of Plenty can offer tourists of the cruise liners coming into our fair city.

This year we are expected to receive 84 cruise ships carrying a record number of passengers from Australia, North America and Europe.

These people not only bring in a welcome instant economic boost to our region, but also are perfect ambassadors for the Bay in that if they have a good time they will bring in more visitors in future years.

Now just to give you an idea about how valuable our guests are the forecasted spending by visitors in the region was $40.7 million.

And a couple of years back people laughed at me when I suggested tourism was a valuable industry for us and needed to be boosted.

As the general manager for Port of Tauranga, Graeme Marshall, said the facility was perfect for passengers who did not have pre-booked tours and wander around Mount Maunganui "not sure what to do".

These are the passengers that we need to keep in Tauranga and the Mount.

We need to promote our city's attractions rather than allow them to be seduced by that sulphurous mob over the other side of the Mamakus.

And we do have plenty to offer here.

In the Mount itself we have the lovely walk around the base of Mauao and after that our guests can enjoy the local cafes.

In the city we have some very fine dining establishments - Cafe Versailles, Spuntino, Takara, India Today ...

And with the new harbour ferry cruise passengers can get a picturesque view of our harbour and easy transport into the CBD.

What we do need is a museum, as tourists do visit such centres, and it must stop being a dirty word in this city.

Combine it with a Maori cultural centre and performing arts building and you have ways to pay for it that do not include pillaging ratepayers' pockets.


***

When dining out I have often been hit by some pretty hefty bills, but at one out-of-town restaurant the other night I was whacked with something more.

There I was sitting down chatting to a group of colleagues when all of a sudden - whack.

It's fair to say my planet-sized brain wobbled quite a bit within its casing after the blow from behind.

A waiter had tried to carry a table past me and misjudged the distance between the solid wood eating platform and my solid wooden cranium.

Of course the apologies were endless and there was no blood so what could one do?

The walk back to the hotel seemed to take longer than the one to the restaurant, which could have either been the concussion I was suffering ... or the effects of the gratis "we're sorry" beverages.


***

To say that one of my experiences on my recent sojourn to Christchurch was of Monty Python proportions is not going too far.

I was walking back from shooting images around the Red Zone and was heading along the Avon River.

Yakking to a fellow lensman two figures closed on us from the opposite direction.

It wasn't until they were within two metres of us that the figure on the right became recognisable as being world traveller, actor and comedian the great Michael Palin.

As quick as I am with a retort and as unperturbed as I usually am with celebrity, all I could do was wave a hand in his direction and say "It's Michael Palin".

Looking at the cameras around me he no doubt feared I was a stalker paparazzo hunting him down and he quickened his pace, gave a cheery-ish "Hello" and zoomed off before I could croak out "Could I get a photo please?"

It was pathetic, I know, as I probably could have recited every line from every Monty Python movie ever made.

My favourite being "I have a vewwy gweat fwend in Wome."

But, following the notion of "get a shot", I snapped his disappearing back.

And if you don't believe I got unceasing grief from my fellow journos about that you have another thing coming. They were unmerciful.

richard@richardmoore.com

- Bay of Plenty Times

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