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National bags New Zealand - again

20 July, 2006

National bags New Zealand - again

The National Party's labelling of New Zealand as a risky tourist destination in order to score cheap political points is a grossly irresponsible act, Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor said today.

Mr O'Connor was referring to a press release issued today by National's Tourism Spokesman David Carter trumpeting a survey by a lone British insurance company, and describing New Zealand as having a reputation for "petty crime and dodgy roads".

"It's outrageous for a senior National Party politician to gleefully jump on the spurious findings of one single survey and try to paint New Zealand as a crime-ridden country just as an excuse to attack the government.

"Such wanton acts can seriously damage our reputation. Tourism is one of our most important industries, with the livelihoods of thousands of New Zealand families depend upon it."

Tourism accounts for one in 10 of all jobs in New Zealand and is worth $17.2 billion to the economy.

"When you separate out the facts from the rubbish, it becomes clears that New Zealand is a safe destination," Mr O'Connor said.

"The road toll for last year is half of what it was in 1990, and the crime rate is at its lowest since 1992. In fact, 97 per cent of visitors say they are more than satisfied with New Zealand as a visitor destination and would recommend it to others."

Mr O'Connor said it is not the first time a senior National politician has demonstrated a serious lack of loyalty to New Zealand.

"Before the last election, National leader 'Bondi' Don Brash was busy encouraging thousands of New Zealanders to go and live in Australia."

ENDS


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