New Zealand Travel Advisory Hurts Tonga Tourism

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Warning remains despite assessment saying Chinese plane properly certified

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 6, 2014) – A New Zealand pilot says the travel advisory issued by New Zealand warning tourists about a Chinese aircraft in Tonga is scaring away potential tourists

The new MA60 aircraft, gifted to Tonga by China, is used for flights between the main island Tongatapu and Vava'u.

Wellington has suspended millions of dollars in tourism aid to Tonga because it uses the plane.

The travel advisory says the MA60 aircraft has not been properly certified although an assessment by an independent aviation advisor Peter Williams has confirmed that its certification is valid.

[PIR editor’s note: RNZI reported that "New Zealand's Prime Minister says the controversial travel advisory on travel to Tonga will stay, despite a report released on Monday that says Tonga properly validated the MA60 plane." RNZI further reported that "Tonga will continue to fly its new Chinese-made MA60 aircraft as a New Zealand inspector's report says the plane was correctly validated."]

New Zealand Pilot, Rodger McCutcheon, says the tourism industry in Vava'u is bearing the brunt of the ongoing controversial dispute.

"I spent two days in Vava'u last week and it's really hurting. There are tourism operators there that if this season doesn't perform for them, if the advisory's not lifted, they will go broke."

New Zealand Pilot, Rodger McCutcheon.

Tonga says it will continue to fly its MA60 aircraft despite the travel advisory.

New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, who discussed the issue with Tongan government in Tonga on Wednesday, says he will look into why a similar travel advisory does not exist for other countries.

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