Lambs get chop as New Zealand woos tourists

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The Independent Online

New Zealand, long the target of sheep jokes of questionable taste, is to stop using sheep images when promoting itself to the outside world, not because of the perils of innuendo, but because they are deemed to be too boring.

New Zealand, long the target of sheep jokes of questionable taste, is to stop using sheep images when promoting itself to the outside world, not because of the perils of innuendo, but because they are deemed to be too boring.

A report for the Tourism New Zealand authority recommends that the country, home to 3.8 million people and 48 million sheep, should be marketed to visitors as "an energising natural experience", adding "it is important to avoid images of sheep, as these only serve to reinforce the negative image of New Zealand as traditional, pastoral and somewhat dull."

Yesterday George Hickton, head of Tourism New Zealand, said he accepted the findings of the report, which says "traditional pastoral vistas of farmland" should also be avoided.

It is not clear what will happen to the North Island tourist attraction Sheepworld, where visitors are treated to shearing and sheepdog displays.

Lucy Lawless, who plays Xena the Warrior Princess in the TV series, a famous New Zealand export, will also be dropped from promotional material for the country. The study found that while Ms Lawless scores highly on recognisability, she is "problematic owing to negative character associations which are very unappealing to older travellers". The authors may be referring to Xena's attire - tight black leather outfit, metallic breastplate and thigh-length boots - and her status as an icon for lesbians.

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