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Destination tourism key to Buller development

The Green Party says Buller business and community leaders should focus their attention on tourism projects which give visitors a reason to stay in Westport rather than encouraging them to drive through the town.

"Developing eco and heritage tourism opportunities will bring more money to Buller than resurrecting the Karamea-Collingwood Road," said Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald.

"The road would generate a lot more traffic but little increase in visitor spending. Petrol stations and fast food outlets would do well but that's about it.

"The goal should be to encourage people to stay a night or two in Westport and northern Buller by marketing existing attractions and developing new ones," said Mr Donald.

"That way they spend more money on accommodation, food, crafts and local attractions.

"With two national parks on your doorstep the potential is enormous," he said.

Rod Donald, who is the Green Party's tourism spokesperson, is urging the council and the business community not to waste their money on promoting a road and instead invest their efforts into a range of projects including:

* Extending the Paparoa and Kahurangi National Parks and seek a World Heritage nomination which would make Westport a World Heritage Gateway town (details available).

* Developing a new Great Walk to complement the Heaphy Track by extending the Lyell Track (details available).

* Creating a "Oparara Mainland Island" wildlife sanctuary near Karamea (details available).

* Initiating a tourist steam train service from Greymouth to Westport or Ngakawau (details available).

* Re-establishing a punting experience across the Buller River near Westport.

* Building cycleways, adjacent to existing highways and off-road (details available).

"The Buller has so much to offer visitors right now. The challenge is to entice people to come to the region, not just pass through it."

Rod Donald MP: 04 470 6660, 025 507 183 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 021 110 1133 for details on Green proposals.

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