Helen Clark: A threat to tourists in the Pacific tropical paradise

From a speech at the Pacific Round Table on Counter-Terrorism, in Wellington, by the Prime Minister of New Zealand

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The traditional image of the South Pacific has long been one of a tropical paradise: beautiful islands, peaceful people, and a benign environment. But as experience has shown in Kenya and Tanzania, where hundreds of locals were killed in terrorist attacks on US embassies, remoteness, peacefulness, and even neutrality or non-alignment do not guarantee security from terrorists.

The traditional image of the South Pacific has long been one of a tropical paradise: beautiful islands, peaceful people, and a benign environment. But as experience has shown in Kenya and Tanzania, where hundreds of locals were killed in terrorist attacks on US embassies, remoteness, peacefulness, and even neutrality or non-alignment do not guarantee security from terrorists.

The problem to be confronted in our region is not so much that terrorists will seek to attack the citizens or institutions of Pacific countries. It is rather that the Pacific might present a tempting target, either for an attack like the one in Bali, or as a base from which terrorist cells might undertake the planning and groundwork for an attack somewhere else.

Terrorism also poses an indirect threat to the countries of the region. Virtually every Pacific island country is heavily dependent on tourism. Tourism depends on air services and cruise ships. If international airlines were unable to land at Pacific entry points because ICAO security requirements were not met, and if for parallel reasons Pacific airlines were prevented from landing in Australia, New Zealand, Guam or Hawaii, the impact on the Pacific's tourism sector would be devastating.

So to a large extent the die is cast. The new security measures have been designed and must be implemented. They make no distinction between countries large and small, or developed or developing. We all have to meet the new benchmarks, or pay the cost.

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