Hanson seen as threat to tourism

BRISBANE, Australia, AP

The re-emergence of Pauline Hanson’s right-wing One Nation party on Australia’s political scene could deter Japanese tourists, a leading industry group said Tuesday.

Australian Tourism Export Council managing director Peter Shelley said the Japanese market was slowly turning around after a difficult period since 1997.

However, Shelley said with One Nation back on the political map after strong performances in two state elections in the last 10 days, the recovery could be threatened.

“The only potential blight on the otherwise strong start (in 2001) for the Japan market is Pauline Hanson,” Shelley said.

Hanson and her party is openly anti-Asian immigration and anti-foreign investment — a mix which set alarm bells ringing around the region when she first emerged as a political power five years ago.

“Her comments … were reported in the Japanese press so the Hanson factor needs to be monitored carefully,” Shelley said.

Shelley said the Australian tourism industry had been hurt in the past by Hanson’s comments which he claimed had no substance.

“If this happens now we will have to continue to reinforce the message that Australia … is a friendly destination.”