Government should encourage tourists to take it easy

The new New Zealand government should encourage overseas visitors to see the country by train or bus, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, was commenting after the second fatal head-on collision involving a tourist in three weeks.

"New Zealand is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the world. However, I'm astonished that much of the tourism industry appears to assume that tourists should drive in order to see it."

"The feedback I'm getting from tourists is that many of them find driving here very stressful and wish there were real alternatives. In addition, overseas tourists sometimes lack the skills to drive safely, especially in the South Island."

Matthew-Wilson is also calling for median barriers to be installed on all major New Zealand roads.

“Three of the worst accidents of the last month involved head-on collisions that would not have occurred on a properly built road. Many of New Zealand’s roads are like a staircase without a handrail: you make a mistake, you’re going to get hurt.”

"In places like Europe, tourists often view the most beautiful scenery by train or bus: it's easy, cheap and stress free. Why aren't we encouraging tourists to view our country this way?"

"In the longer term, I'd like to see modern railways carrying a large percentage of visitors through the beauty spots currently visited by self-drive tourists. In the shorter term, we should be encouraging commercial operators to provide high quality transport that frees tourists from the need to drive."

"One obvious task for the incoming government will be to work with the tourism industry to ensure that visiting tourists are effortlessly linked to safe, high quality transport and accommodation. Many tourist operators are already providing high quality services for tourists. However, we also need to weed out the dodgy companies, such as the tourist bus operators who were recently operating without drivers' licences."

"Above all, the government needs to work with the tourism industry to ensure that overseas visitors are given the full range of options for travel in this country. If tourists choose to drive, that's their choice. However, I'm sure many tourists would rather see the Southern Alps by train or bus. That way, they can concentrate on the beauty, rather than the driving."