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NZ shamed in international tourism report

5th March 2008

NZ shamed in international tourism report

A 'dead last' ranking in the World Economic Forum's Travel and Tourism Report released today highlights the Government's shameful lack of attention to our threatened species' recovery.

The Green Party says that the report, in which New Zealand comes last out of 130 countries on the plight of endangered species and 95th on our failure to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, puts the Government's empty rhetoric in the global limelight.

"These results will be no surprise to the Government, but they will be very embarrassed that the truth behind their 'clean green image' has been exposed," Green Party Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"Just last month the Department of Conservation announced the need to cut staff to meet their budget. This report makes it obvious that we must increase their funding. New Zealand desperately needs DoC to expand their work with endangered plants and animals, not to make cuts to meet tight-fisted Government demands.

"We already have a species of dolphin and frog which are the rarest of their type in the world, and are on the slide to extinction.

"Just yesterday it was reported stoats have decimated the highly endangered takahe, reducing the population in the Murchison Mountains sanctuary from 150 to 92 birds. With less than a third of the area protected by trapping, we urgently need to finance expanding the trapping programme.

"Likewise, the iconic whio (blue duck) can only be actively protected in limited areas at present. This species cannot be contained on off-shore islands as insurance because they need large fast-flowing river habitats. Again we desperately need to increase the number of catchments where this bird is protected."

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The Green Party urgently calls on the Government to increase the base funding for the Department of Conservation to do its essential work of arresting the decline of our threatened species.

"While the Green Party is pleased that the sustainability of the Tourism and Trade sector is ranked a high 7, reflecting the shift to sustainability in last year's tourism strategy, yet we are surprised that the Tourism Industry Association this week called for exemption from the cost of taking any action on climate change.

"The Travel and Tourism Report states our poor 95th placing in greenhouse gas emissions is a 'competitive disadvantage'. I say to the industry "wake up and smell the carbon" and realise that our competitive advantage and reputation as a tourist destination, worth $12.8 billion, depends on taking action immediately."


ENDS

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