COMMENT:

With tourism our biggest income earner (or even when it isn't because the dairy price is up) the reality is that tourism is the golden goose.

And we have taken great care to tell a wonderful story and ride a fantastic wave. There has been debate over whether we are technically 100 per cent pure, but I always thought that was petty, literal and almost childish. Anyone who takes branding that literally needs a sense of imagination, humour and a life.

We have been debating the merits of taxing tourists. The argument 'for' appears to be other people do it. That's not actually an argument for anything.

We should do things on genuine merit. And here's what I have learned about being a tourist last week.

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Hawaii has blown it. Waikiki is one of the great destinations of the world.

I first went there in the early 1980s on the way back from Europe. I got horribly sunburned, got offered a massive amount of dope because it was summer break at American schools and they thought I was a student, and saw King Curtis the wrestler selling surfboards.

But I have been back last week. And for the last time, because they have failed to heed the warning signs of success. Fundamentally the place hasn't changed in 30 years. The hotels are old, the place is expensive, and the service now is crap.

I couldn't work out whether the service is crap because the place is frequented by stoners and deadbeats, or because the American economy is so strong they have our issue, getting good people is nigh on impossible.

But when you're used to service Los Angeles style, which is world class, Hawaii is from a different age, like the stone age.

This by the way is not a whinge, whether I had a bad holiday matters not.

This is the story of the power of tourism, and how carefully you have to tread. Our hotel room was more expensive than any hotel room we have ever paid for.

We can get a similar room in similar-style hotels anywhere in the world - and it's cheaper to stay in New York, London, Paris, and Los Angeles than Hawaii.

An old room, at an ordinary hotel, at a record busting price. That equation doesn't work.
The whole world is travelling these days. Tourism is boosting, saving, and building endless economies.

Iceland's economy has been saved in the last decade because of tourism. Croatia is booming post-Yugoslavia because of tourism. France is overrun with tourists.
And this country is beholden to the tourist trade.

With so much choice and so many customers, it's a punters' market.
Hawaii failed to see that, took it for granted, and ripped me off.
And as a result guess what? I'll go elsewhere.