New Zealand is to offer tourists free bus travel for four months as part of a broader pilot scheme that will help tourists get around the country quicker.
The New Zealand Government has confirmed the trial is being launched this week.
The move is aimed at boosting tourism, with many Kiwis opting to travel in public transport rather than drive their own vehicles.
Tourists will be able to pay for their own bus pass for the first four months of the trial, and will be allowed to return to the city once the period has expired.
Tourists also will be charged a tax for each trip they make, but the Government says this will be refunded once tourists have returned to the country.
Tourism Minister Matt Canavan says the scheme is a way of making New Zealand a more attractive destination for overseas visitors, while also providing a better return for taxpayers.
“This is a pilot programme where the money raised through the scheme will be used to build infrastructure to increase travel capacity,” he said.
“There will be no extra charge for tourists to travel to New Zealand.”
Tourism minister Matt Canavas announcement.
“The money raised from the scheme for infrastructure is being spent on roads, parks, hospitals and schools.
It will be spent on tourism and investment, not to make our economy more attractive to tourists.”
Tourism NZ chief executive, Robyn McLean, says the plan is aimed not just at boosting the tourism industry but also reducing congestion in the country’s streets and in the capital city, Wellington.
“As the government of New Zealand continues to build its tourism industry, we need to ensure the roads are safe for all travellers and that our parks and beaches are safe,” she said.
McLean says the Government will provide more details on the scheme in due course.
New Zealanders will be required to show ID when leaving their homes, and are required to wear a helmet while on public transport.
People travelling to and from Wellington will be subject to a fine of $2 for each extra kilometre travelled.
Tourist groups say the pilot scheme will provide a more affordable way of travelling to the capital.
Canavan says New Zealanders are more than willing to pay to get around, and they have to choose between driving their own vehicle and taking public transport for their entire trip.
He says the trial will allow the Government to look at options for other types of travel, including walking and cycling.
Auckland Council chief executive officer, Andrew Stirling, says this is a great opportunity for tourists, and a win for all Aucklanders.
“The Government will be making a big commitment to tourism in this region, so I’m sure this will help bring some of the best parts of New York City into the capital, as well as our national capital,” he says.
“It will give us the chance to work with the City of Auckland to make this project a success, as the Government looks to make Auckland the most attractive destination in the world for international tourists.”
New South Wales Chief Minister Gladys Berejiklian says tourists are not the only ones who are willing to get on a bus and see New Zealand.
“They have also made a decision to take public transport to visit their friends and family and to go on holiday, and to get away from the hustle and bustle of their day-to-day lives,” she says.
Berejikbian says the pilot will also help ensure that tourists are able to access services and schools more easily.
She says the government is keen to continue with the pilot, and says the new policy will help attract tourists to the area.
More to come.