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Criminals savage tourism image

Hon. Tony Ryall MP - National Law and Order spokesman

15 December 2004

Criminals savage tourism image

New Zealand's tourism reputation is being savaged by increasing crime against visitors, says National's Law and Order spokesman, Tony Ryall.

"There's no point in being clean and green if our cities are contaminated by crime," he says.

"Not a week passes without a report that a visitor to our country has been beaten and robbed.

"For the sake of tourism, it's time for police protection and protection of our reputation overseas.

"Recent examples include the German tourists who had their van and belongings stolen in Rotorua last week. This is the latest in a string of such thefts in that city. Victim Support reportedly says visitors are being targeted."

Other recent incidents include:

· A Briton was brutally beaten in Waihi.

· A German was almost killed by a parolee living in a Nelson backpackers.

· An elderly American was severely maimed in a savage knife attack in a West Coast backpackers.

· A 21-year-old who stole $6000 of tourists' property was jailed for 10 months.

"Even returning Kiwis are robbed at motels before they get home, like that three young Kiwi filmmakers reported in the media today. They travelled safely in high-risk places around the globe, but were robbed as soon as they got back to New Zealand.

"These stories have been reported around the world. Word of mouth is a key seller in tourism, and with increasing crime against tourists here, those words won't be positive," Mr Ryall says.

"Police Minister George Hawkins is completely oblivious to the problem. His record is one of muddled thinking and erratic performance.

"Tourism, like our communities, is at risk because of the Government's poor performance."

ENDS

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