Safety warning for Asian tourists


Tourists have been advised by one ethnic group that it is not safe to walk alone on the street in New Zealand, as other Asian groups say the country is fast losing its reputation as a “safe country to visit”.

The New Zealand-Japan Society has advised tourists to travel in groups, rather than individually, after arrests were made over the murder of Korean backpacker Jae Hyeon Kim.

“These days you get a lot of people choosing to travel alone, and they become easy targets for opportunist crims,” said society president Stephen Duxfield.”What we are saying is that if people are in groups, this is less likely to happen.”

Police last week arrested three men over the murder of the 25-year-old on the West Coast in 2003, which led to the re-opening of an investigation into the disappearance of 64-year-old Japanese tourist Mikimoro Nakanishi in the same area.

Key office holders of the Korean Society met last night, where society director Kenneth Jeong said the murder and arrest were discussed.

“Some of us feel that New Zealand is not as safe as it used to be after news of the murder, which we cannot separate from the murders in South Auckland,” said Mr Jeong.

He said some suspected the murder could be an act of racism.

Last month, Joanne Wang, 39, was killed in a hit and run after her handbag was snatched; Yang Yin Ping, 80, was fatally attacked in her Manurewa home; and Navtej Singh, 30, was shot during a robbery of his liquor store. All the victims were Asian.

Businessman Charles Kang, a trade consultant originally from Singapore, said many of his overseas clients have raised concerns over safety issues over doing business in New Zealand.

“One compared New Zealand to South Africa, and another said Auckland was fast becoming for us what Oakland is to America,” said Mr Kang. “Many expressed surprise at the level of crime we experience here, because New Zealand has a reputation as being a safe country.”

An operator for Taiwanese tour groups is also telling his tourists about safety in numbers when visiting New Zealand.

“We advise our tourists, especially the ladies, ony to go out in groups if they want to leave their motels in the evenings,” said tour guide Season Lee.

“Many Taiwanese think New Zealand is safer than where they came from, so they tend to let their guard down when they come here, and that is not a very wise thing to do.”