Local officials in Rotorua, a popular tourist destination in New Zealand for geothermal activity and geysers and mud pools that I have actually visited, are under fire for spending about $70,000 in public funds to import five tons of mud from Boryeong, South Korea for a mud and music festival known as Mudtopia. What’s wrong with their own mud, which attracts people to that region?
And there’s a very good reason why organisers have decided on a superior imported product, Rotorua local councillor Trevor Maxwell tells the New Zealand Herald. “I know there’s a perception that Rotorua has enough mud, but you can’t just pull any old mud out of the ground and throw it at people. There could be anything in there that could end up making people sick.”
What is so special about Boryeong mud that makes it so superior? Officials are hoping that the success of Boryeong’s own mud festival will rub off on them.
Boryeong is home to its own successful mud festival which has “developed into a top international summer event with its mud flats attracting many tourists from around the world”, the Korea Herald reports.
The ten-day festival, currently underway on the country’s west coast, features a huge mud tub, a marathon on the mud flats, parades and pop concerts.
Last year’s event drew around four million people, including over 400,000 foreign tourists, bringing 73bn won (US$65m; £50m) to the region, KBS Radio reports. It’s those figures which have caught Rotorua’s eye, with the hope of attracting the tourist dollar.
The best mud festivals require the best mud. You can’t argue with that.