The New Zealand Herald is running a story about a group of tourists camping at a campsite in Northland. One of the group, Frenchman Anthony Cressend went for a walk after arriving at the campsite in darkness. No one advised them that walking alone wasn’t a safe thing to do.
Unfortunately Anthony Cressend says he was then set upon by a gang of three men who broke his jaw in three places and kicked-in his teeth. It’s strange that no date is given for the attack, how long ago did this happen and was it around the time of the French Rugby team’s tour?
When the incident was reported to the police the paper stated that:
“Police told him they would not investigate without a Kiwi contact number.
“As soon as I said that [he did not have a New Zealand cellphone] the [officer] flipped over his book and said ‘Well we can’t call outside of New Zealand cell zone’,” said travel companion Emily Holloway, 24.”
There is no indication from the report if police later decided to investigate the matter further, which may be why the group took their story to the press. The report finishes with “They told their story as a warning to other tourists.” (It does make one wonder how many other attacks have gone unnoticed because of similar failures to own a NZ sim card)
Read the full story here : Savage attack ruins experience of NZ
Albania feels safer than New Zealand: (from the Herald report)
“….the trio are trying to stay positive. But they are shocked by the random attack in a country they had thought to be safe and friendly.
“Even in Albania, which is really dangerous, we have never had this problem, even in Bolivia … They are just friendly with you and you don’t feel it’s dangerous,” Mr Collomb said.”
Damage limitation or reality check?
Whilst some quarters will try to do a damage limitation exercise on this story (we expect to see the “isolated incident” comments any moment) others will take the opportunity to again warn tourists of the dangers they face in New Zealand, there may be more of this type of article in the coming days “False image makes visitors vulnerable” published after the Mathieu Bastareaud furore.
Regular readers of this blog will know that attacks on tourists are not unusual in New Zealand, (Whangarei Council once pondered whether to counter the negative stories or improve the situation -see bottom of page)
Most of us already know about the high profile assaults and rapes of tourists, students and back packers of all nationalities. We know that tourists and visitors need to be as vigilant in NZ as they would be anywhere in the world with high reported crime rates and high numbers of crime victims:
Some tourist attacks in New Zealand
*American peace corp twins were robbed in Christchurch.
*Dutch couple raped and robbed on a campsite in Tuatapere whilst on honeymoon.
*British tourist sexually assaulted near Hururu Falls.
*Dutch couple robbed and sexually attacked Haruru Falls whilst on honeymoon.
*Two British women robbed and sexually assaulted in their campervan at Tokomaru Bay.
*Scottish woman Karen Aim brutally murdered in Taupo.
*German woman Birgit Brauer murdered near New Plymouth.
*Korean man Jae Hyeon Kim decapitated with a spade.
*Japanese tourist robbed at gunpoint in Oamaru.
* Irish cycle tourist Paul Mack bashed, robbed and urinated on.
*6 English and Danish tourists attacked and stabbed in Cashel Mall for having “foreign accents.”
*Irish man Robby O’Brien beaten up in Westport.
*American campers Patrick Dykstra and Kelsey McGinley beaten and robbed at Whangarei Falls.
*Australian tourist sexually assaulted in broad daylight in Nelson.
*Canadian tourist left with a fractured skull outside Silver Fern backpackers in Taupo.
*British man Paul Speakman and his young son beaten and robbed in a campervan at Athenree Gorge, Katikati.
Yesterday this blog reported on the sentencing of a thug for the serious assault on Scottish visitor Stuart Martin who was left in a coma and a shoe print on his face after a street bashing in February.
The situation has been serious enough for even tourism managers to call for tourists to be more vigilant and for one victim’s mother to threaten to hand out leaflets warning tourists of the dangers:
“A spokeswoman for Tourism New Zealand said New Zealand was still regarded as a safe country, but visitors needed to be made aware of the risks.
“New Zealand is seen as a warm and friendly place, and certainly what has happened is in stark contrast to that reputation,” she said.
“We are always concerned about visitor safety, whether it be due to crime or safety — when tramping, for example. It is our responsibility to get the safety message out there.”
Safety messages were put out on tourism websites and leaflets given to visitors, but tourism operators could help.
“Tourism operators should think about talking to their guests about things in their area, whether that be weather or conditions on a certain track or not walking down a dark alley at night,” she said.
“We do need to strike a balance with portraying New Zealand as safe, but I don’t think operators should be worried about making people aware of the risks. I think most operators would be aware that there would be more damage done by an actual incident.”
Tourism West Coast general manager Sonya Matthews said all tourists, from overseas or other parts of New Zealand, needed to be vigilant.
She said they should not be put off touring the country.
“I don’t think we want to scare people, but they do need to take general precautions,” she said.”
See also a quote from General Manager’s report to Whangarei District Council, April 2004:
“Tourism advisory group meeting“
“Further cases of tourists being attacked or robbed during their stay in Whangarei have made for headlines here, and an article in the New Zealand Herald. The question of whether it is possible to find ways to counter these negative stories, or improve the situation remains unanswered“.
The time is long overdue to find an answer. New Zealand depends heavily on its tourism revenues and can ill afford to lose them during the recession. Improving the tourism experience for visitors will also improve the country for many residents – crime is a significant problem, NZ has the second highest total crimes per capita, the world’s highest use of Cannabis and third highest use of Amphetamines.