Editorial: Attacks on tourists hurt us all

By Kelly Makiha

Kelly Makiha
Kelly Makiha

When someone in the tourism industry drops the ball, the impact in Rotorua is so much greater.

Being a tourist town, Rotorua gets judged harshly from bad experiences and the consequences are huge.

That's why the actions of a Rotorua motel manager recently were not only cringeworthy, they were extremely damaging.

Hyeon (Paul) Soo Song was sentenced yesterday for indecently assaulting a female guest at the Studio Motel.

Song inappropriately touched the woman, including leading her to her room by the hand, massaging her shoulders and touching her breasts with his hands and mouth.

He was sentenced to 250 hours' community work, supervision and was ordered to pay $1000 reparation to his victim, despite the police pushing for a jail term.

While I don't necessarily think Song should have been jailed, it is worth looking at offenders facing a harsher penalty when their actions cause considerable damage.

Former New Zealand Law Society president Jonathan Temm from Rotorua has in the past suggested a new charge be introduced that recognises the impact criminals have when they steal from or rip off visitors. His suggestion was around thefts from cars, saying a new charge of "theft from a tourist" should carry a mandatory jail term.

The idea won favour from Rotorua's tourism industry as well as local politicians who were keen to talk about it further but nothing eventuated.

Every attack on a tourist or visitor is a direct attack on us as a city.

I hope Song truly understands the impact his slip-up has on our bread and butter - the motel industry.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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