Tourism New Zealand has suspended the marketing of this country. In doing so, it has made a mistake.
This is not to be confused with social media platforms, who are under renewed pressure from a variety of advertisers who see their lack of action around hate speech, live streaming, and general mayhem as something that needs addressing.
Tourism New Zealand, sadly, is part of a group of corporates who don't know what they are and don't believe in themselves enough to stand firm, far less tall. What this country has gone through these past two weeks is not our fault. It's not unique, or anywhere close to being unique, and the last thing we should be doing is looking like we are afraid or second guessing ourselves.
This country is as much a tourist destination today as it was a month ago, a year ago, a year from now. In fact you might like to argue, given our response in the past 14 days that has gone around the world to any number of plaudits and admiring reviews, we have sent a very powerful message that adverse events and calamity are not reasons to pack up and duck for cover. Just this week, enquiries to move here are through the roof.
No, you do not want to go out to the world if you're Tourism New Zealand with a new campaign or overtly enhanced messaging. But equally, you do not want to look like you've panicked. Will the numbers of tourists dip? Probably, but not for long. And once again, we have the advantage of history. The time immediately after 9/11 was full of fear and trepidation. Why, so many asked, would anyone ever get on a plane again? And yet not only did they, but we travel like we never have. And so it will be here.
I guess, from Tourism New Zealand's point of view, there is a respect issue. Is it crass to promote our country at a time of such tragedy? Not, I would argue, if that promotion was no different now than it was before. Not if it was the norm. If we, by suspending business, are somehow arguing everything has changed, then we are the losers. Because everything hasn't changed. The same way it hasn't changed in any of the other cities around world who have faced any sort of adversity driven by hatred.
Europe has been in the middle of this for the past few years. I've still been to London and Paris and I've still been to America and so have millions of others. And if we have, of what is Tourism New Zealand afraid? Of what is any corporate afraid? Tourism NZ is a legitimate business promoting a legitimate service and product, and Christchurch doesn't change that. It doesn't change what's on offer, doesn't change who we are, doesn't change the experience of the three and a-half million who come here. By suspending business, you highlight something that doesn't need highlighting. You suggest something is wrong, when it's only wrong if a lack of courage has led you to your action. And who wants to be known for a lack of courage?