Tourism New Zealand has been unwittingly linked to inappropriate photos posted on an Instagram account which seems to be affiliated with the organization – however isn’t.
The account, which uses the handle @tourism_nz, contains thousands of photos – some stunning, some saucy and some completely bizarre.
However, the account was removed this week after the Weekend Herald emailed questions to @tourism_nz regarding the photographs.
Facebook which owns Instagram confirmed it didn’t remove the account despite tourism New Zealand asking for it to be removed in February last year.
Among photos showing exciting New Zealand scenery there were pictures of scantily clad women, people posing for photos in the middle of the road, a topless woman with a beer in her hand and a person standing in front of 2 cars.
The @tourism_nz account had some of its 88,500 followers fooled as many assumed it was tourism New Zealand’s official account.
But, despite having nothing to do with the organization, tourism New Zealand had been unsuccessful in convincing Instagram to remove it.
Tourism New Zealand has about to a million followers on its official Instagram account, @purenewzealand, which also has a badge verifying it’s run by the organization.
Some of the photographs posted on the @tourism_nz account had been met with criticism and prompted users to “unfollow” the page.
Instagrammer @goldenbayhideaway said: “Boring, or are we promoting sex-tourism now? @tourism_nz? Unfollowing”.
Another user, @nando_azevedo, questioned how “objectification” was being used to “promote tourism in NZ”.
“Whereabouts is this? Oh wait, it’s a photograph of an ass, not New Zealand. Who’s the ass who keeps allowing photos of asses on a page about New Zealand? All humans have asses not just Kiwis,” user @nickielake wrote.
Rebecca Ingram, general manager New Zealand and government relations at tourism New Zealand, told the Weekend Herald the organization contacted Instagram last February to have the @tourism_nz account removed however Instagram said it didn’t claim to be an official account so had not broken the rules.
“We then contacted Instagram about a complaint we received from a member of the public in April this year who was concerned regarding questionable content (half-naked people) posted on the page. This person was under the impression the account was an official tourism New Zealand account,” aforesaid Ingram.
She said photos of tourists sitting on the road and scantily clad women had nothing to do with New Zealand’s clean and green image.
Photos of tourists posing in the middle of the road also irritated the New Zealand police, who said it was dangerous and illegal.
In a statement, a police spokesperson said it was an offence for pedestrians to loiter on a public road.
“Police urge pedestrians to keep themselves and others safe by not lingering on the road. a vacation snap isn’t worth your life”.
An Instagram spokesperson said its community guidelines clearly outlined what content and accounts weren’t allowed and @tourism_nz didn’t breach any of them.
“In this instance, we’ve reviewed the account and confirmed that it doesn’t violate our policies and does not make any claim to be the verified or official tourism account of New Zealand.”
Community guidelines also didn’t permit nudity, the corporate said.
“This includes photos, videos, and some digitally–created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks.
“We don’t make judgments on pictures of women (or men) wearing swimwear as ‘inappropriate’ or ‘questionable’. We will take action on any content that violates our community guidelines around nudity by showing sexuality, genitals and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks – which the content on this account doesn’t.”
Asked regarding the photographs of people sitting on roads, the social media giant said it didn’t allow “content that contains serious threats of harm to the public and personal safety”.
The person behind the @tourism_nz Instagram account couldn’t be reached for comment.