When I first heard about a tourist party attending a free Xmas day lunch that was intended for the poor and lonely in Auckland, I was a bit miffed. I decided that I should not react too strongly until I had heard the full story. Yes, at first glance, it appeared that the tourists were being selfish and looking for a free ride. I am therefore pleased that one of the tourists who attended this luncheon, has given an explanation; a very plausible one.
A local unlicensed Mandarin speaking operator had approached a group of Chinese tourists offering a ’hard to believe’ deal, whereby they would only pay NZ$88 for an amazing array of events, including a ‘garden visit, Kiwi BBQ, thermal park and a farm park visit, amongst others. Hell, for that amount, who wouldn’t take up the deal? Of course, none of these events involved an entry fee and the only expense for the operator was in transporting the tourists; easy and very cheeky money.
What got up most Kiwis’ craws was the fact that the Xmas lunch really is for those less fortunate. I am glad that no one gave the tourists a hard time on the day, because that would have been unseemly. However, the subsequent publicity would have caused embarrassment for the Chinese tourists if they had read about it. Now that one of the tourists has come forward to give their side of the story, the blame should be soundly and forcefully put at the feet of the operator. That firm should receive a hefty bill from the Auckland City Mission, but somehow I suspect they will put it down to experience.
What perhaps needs to be done is to ‘take out’ these unscrupulous operators, who give NZ a bad name and cause unnecessary embarrassment to groups of unwary tourists. The operator also owes New Zealand an apology and most certainly one to the tourists. Maybe the least he/she could do is take them out to a real dinner if they ever come back. New Zealanders do not like rip-off agents!