A lethal cocktail of killer roads, unsafe vehicles, dangerous driving and disorientated travellers is resulting in thousands of tourist deaths each year, warns a new report from the FIA Foundation and the Make Roads Safe campaign, published on 27 September, World Tourism Day.
The report warns that tourist deaths on the roads, currently estimated at approximately 25,000 a year, could almost double to 45,000 by 2020 and triple to 75,000 by 2030 as global road deaths overall are forecast to increase.
Road deaths are already the number one risk to tourists ahead of terrorism, plane crashes and infectious disease yet the report finds that the international tourism industry and tourism organisations provide little advice to alert tourists to specific road safety problems in different countries.
Many countries that are rated ‘medium risk’ or ‘high risk’ for their road safety are also popular holiday destinations and have economies that are highly dependent on international tourism says the report ‘Bad Trips: International Tourism and road deaths in the developing world’ which was written by the former head of the OECD’s transport safety centre, John White.
As well as experiencing poor levels of road safety abroad, tourists are particularly vulnerable on foreign roads because of differences in road user culture, as well as their own risk taking behaviour (for example hiring motorbikes without a helmet) that would not be acceptable at home. Yet even within Europe, tourist deaths account for between 5-10% of the total road fatalities in some countries.
The report recommends some key changes to improve holiday safety for tourists:
- The tourism industry should end its silence on the issue of road deaths and begin to address measures to protect its customers;
- Holiday operators should use their economic position to demand improvements, for example requiring that all taxis have operable seat belts and trained drivers;
- Introduce an international charter mark for safe and well-managed road transport, to encourage good performance, reward the best operators and empower consumers;
- The UN’s World Tourism Organisation should make road safety a policy priority, creating an international dialogue and support for developing countries as part of the forthcoming UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020;
- Industry, governments and tour guide producers to better coordinate up-to-date and specific advice on road safety issues, including identifying rogue operators.
David Ward, FIA Foundation Director General, said:
“Tourists and international travellers expect and demand the highest standards of safety when they step on an aeroplane to travel on holiday. But once they leave the arrivals lounge, tourists are left to fend for themselves in an often dangerous environment. Unsafe roads, untrained drivers, poorly maintained vehicles – often without seat belts: this is the reality of travel in many popular tourist destinations. The governments of these countries and the international and local tourism industries can and must do more to protect tourists on the roads. And by protecting tourists, and improving road safety, they will also be improving protection for their own citizens – road safety must be recognised as key element of sustainable tourism”.
Download the 'Bad Trips' report (PDF - 1.4mb) >