John Key’s government addicted to corporate welfare


A government grant for a spa pool on Rotorua’s lakefront is being described as corporate welfare of the worst kind.

Prime Minister John Key announced the $350,000 grant on Wednesday, saying it would help meet the cost of the World Spa complex.

The money is coming from the tourism growth fund.

Spending watchdog the Taxpayers’ Union says the grant will be given to Pukeroa Lakefront Holdings, a commercial arm of Ngati Whakaue.

“This is taxpayer money going to build a spa in Rotorua,” said executive director Jordan Williams.

“That’s not innovation, it’s corporate welfare of the worst kind.”

Free money.  The government has  a little $8m slush fund that companies in Tourism can apply to have their share of.   Here are the list of project that have succeeded in getting no-strings-attached free taxpayers’ money to boost their bottom lines:   Read more »

Chernobyl tourism. No, I’m not kidding

Dark tourism is on the rise, with perhaps the best example of such a phenomenon being the ever-increasing interest in Chernobyl as a holiday destination.

April 26, 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the explosion, which was one of the worst nuclear accidents that the world has ever seen.

In recent years, visits to the nuclear explosion site have increased exponentially, with Kiev-based tour company, SoloEast, estimating that it takes approximately 10,000 tourists there each year.

Wow.  30 years already.   Read more »

Tourist killer drivers, and how to fix it

Clive Matthew-Wilson, who helped get crash testing into New Zealand and is the publisher of “The Dog and Lemon Guide“, has slated the Government for what he sees as its lack of action regarding tourist driving in New Zealand.

“The tourist driving situation is an unexploded bomb that will explode next tourist season.”

He has written a 52-page report entitled Driven to Distraction: A Strategy for Reducing Tourist Accidents, which outlines his argument.

“It all comes down to money. Their (the Government’s) pockets are getting filled by a multimillion-dollar industry. What is worth more to them, the lives of Timaru yokels or the tourism industry? It would be different if it was politicians’ kids getting killed on the roads.”

The report raised a variety of controversial, but substantiated points, Matthew-Wilson said. These included highlighting corrupt systems in some Asian countries, allowing for people to pay for their driver’s licences, rather than pass a test.

Clive has come up with reasons and suggestions.   Read more »

Are we turning into a nation of traffic vigilantes?

More Kiwi drivers are taking the law into their own hands, with yet another tourist driver having their car keys snatched off them over the weekend.

The incident happened on the Otago Peninsula when two tourists stopped on the side of a narrow road to take a photo, holding up eight cars behind them, the Otago Daily Timesreports.

Dunedin man Robert Penman, who was travelling with his son, told the paper he was moved to act because he had “been in a head-on crash before and I don’t want to be in another one”.

He said he did not believe it was safe to overtake the car, and tried tooting at the couple several times to get them to move on.
When they finally continued driving they were travelling around 20km/h, he said.

Mr Penman called the police and blocked the couple’s exit when they turned into a driveway, at which point an altercation occurred.

“When he started to push me, I went around to the driver’s side and grabbed the keys, and I said ‘you are not going anywhere’,” Mr Penman said.

Southern District acting road policing manager Senior Sergeant Steve Larking told theOtago Daily Times he spoke to both Mr Penman and the tourists, with the foreign drivers being given information about where to park safely and Mr Penman told to “calm down”. Read more »

HDPA cutting our killer tourists some slack

There’s a road I like to take to get away from the city. It carries you north out of Wellington, passing the Hutt on your right.

At first, there are cars everywhere, but once you clear the motorway the vehicles thin out. You pass quaint tea rooms, cows in a paddock and old huts you assume must belong to DoC because who else would put a hut all the way up there?

The road begins to climb, gradually at first. The two lanes north reduce to one. And it’s narrow. But you don’t mind because from this road you get a stunner of a view. Bush, clouds threading through the hills, snow sometimes.

The road zigs left, then right, like a river winding around the mountain. You have to slow right down to make the corners. The drop down one side is scary if you stop to think about it. There’s only a ruler length between you and the edge.

This road isn’t a secret find of mine. It’s our second most important drag. State Highway 2, heading over the Rimutakas. It’s one of only two ways to get out of our capital by car, and it’s a road tourists drive every day.

In this outrage about the carnage tourists are causing on our roads, I reckon we may be forgetting our part in the crashes. These are our roads and they’re dangerous.

A couple of years ago I stopped for a drink at a roadside bar in South Africa. The light was failing so the barman told me to get going. “It’s a bloody windy one,” he warned.

I did as I was told. I drove through a gorge and the corners came. Even though the curves were sweeping, I began slowing down. I didn’t want to be surprised by those sudden turns.

But the sharp corners never arrived. I was back on the straight.

What the South African barman considered winding was nothing for someone who knows the Desert Rd, or that gorge that runs between Napier and Taupo, or Arthur’s Pass. Read more »

South Island killing fields

The stats are sobering…

Foreign drivers have been responsible for one in every 12 fatal crashes in the South Island during the past decade.

Figures from the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) were released yesterday amid calls for greater safety measures after a spate of fatal crashes and arrests for careless driving involving tourists this year.

Between 2005 and 2014, foreign licence holders were at fault or partly at fault in 85.3 per cent of all crashes they were involved in on New Zealand roads, and in the South Island that figure climbed to 87.5 per cent.

Associate transport minister Craig Foss said yesterday that he had asked officials to fast-track work to implement more rumble strips, signage and improve lay-bys and hasten a research programme into visiting drivers, launched last April.

Some of our families pay a high price to allow tourism to operate in such an unrestricted was as to send people totally unsuitable for our roads off on a killing spree.  And those are just the fatals – how many injuries and write-offs are there?    Read more »


Treaty Ground owners making good tourism coin

Waitangi Treaty House

The media are selling it as a disaster – a drop in visitor numbers willing to pay:

A drop in the number of Kiwis visiting the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds has sparked more debate on whether people should have to pay.

While it’s free on Waitangi Day, which saw 30,000 people flock to the grounds, a charge introduced last year means during all other times Kiwis have to pay $15 and overseas visitors $25.

Since then, the number of domestic visitors has dropped by more than five per cent.

Five percent.  So 5% down on when it was free.  95% of the people pay anyway?  Good grief, it’s a money spinner.    Read more »

Get those foreign killers off the road


After plowing into the locals for years while we stand idly by in fear of losing someone a tourist dollar, there is some movement.  Maybe.

Police may get the power to ban erratic tourist drivers from the roads as concern grows about the number of fatalities involving overseas drivers.

The death of motorcyclist Grant Roberts left two young boys without a father. They have taken a petition to Parliament asking to make it tougher for tourists to drive here.

Mr Roberts was one of two motorcyclists killed when a young Chinese woman lost control of her car.

Christchurch coroner Richard McElrea investigated the accident and has called for police to be given powers to ban drivers who show a “demonstrable lack of ability”.

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss is interested in the idea.

“We’re considering all the options that the coroner’s put to us,” he says. “That recommendation in particular I’m interested in and I’ll be talking to the Minister of Police about that one.”

We have to have a better balance where we value the safety of others over the bottom line of tourist operators just a little more.

Read more »


NZ top of the list for Luxury travel too

You’d think listening to opposition parties and politicians that New Zealand sucked.

The problem with that is visitors love our country.

And now we have been rated top spot to visit by luxury travellers.

New Zealand has topped leading US luxury travel agency Virtuoso’s annual ‘Hot List’, winning the honour for the biggest year-on-year growth in luxury travel.

The announcement was made at Virtuoso Travel Week, held in August, in front of 4,420 delegates, attending from 92 countries – the largest delegate attendance ever.

New Zealand topped the list by a wide margin, with a staggering increase of 196 per cent growth year-on-year. Chile followed in second place, with an increase of 103 per cent, while Indonesia, Hungary and Hong Kong made up the remainder of the top five.    Read more »

Three counts of careless driving causing death? Why not manslaughter?

Talkback and comments are running hot around the problem.  What to do with tourists on our road?  Responsible for 6% of our road deaths.  As high as 25% around Queenstown.

Stop then from driving?   Self drive tourism is huge.

Sit a test?  Perhaps.

I have a better idea.

Make them sit through a slide show of people that have been killed by tourists on the road, including victim impact statements of the family left behind and make sure this picture glued on every steering wheel of every camper van and rental car that tourists take on the road

Abigail Hone

Abigail Hone

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