EACH year when we attend the Cape Getaway Show many prospective tourists ask about road safety, particularly involving the N2 thoroughfare between East London and Kokstad in the Eastern Cape.
This link is recognised as one of the most dangerous in South Africa and this reputation can act as a deterrent for visitors seeking to have holidays away from the Western and Cape.
Thankfully we can offer inquirers the hassle-free option to take the Karoo and scenic R56 option via the Eastern Cape Highlands to Kokstad and then on to the coast. Not many people know this, but it is in fact the shortest route from Cape Town to the South Coast.
I have driven the R56 many times and can say that the roads are excellent, not congested with cars, public transport, heavy duty trucks, people and livestock and certainly one of the most beautiful and safe routes one can take.
What is clear is that a route to, and roads within a destination that have a poor safety reputation, can get the consumers asking questions and heading off to less daunting places to have their holidays.
In local media reports, it appears there have been an unacceptable number of unfortunate and serious accidents which may be ascribed to speed, non-roadworthy vehicles, alcohol, carelessness or a combination of it all. This is a worry.
We are committed to all and sundry having a “Sunny and Safe” experience down here. Besides the need for drivers to continually act in a law-abiding manner, a zero- tolerance approach by the authorities will also induce the motoring public to be more responsible on our roads.
I have been told by visitors that it is very encouraging when there is strong evidence of law enforcement. Their presence provides comfort to the motorist in that attention to road safety is being lent and that transgressions are being curbed.
One of the buzz terms in our industry is referred to as “Responsible Tourism” and I would say that attention to road safety by the public and the enforcement entities fits into that holistic approach.
In 1976 I spent five weeks travelling throughout the United Kingdom and in all that time I did not see evidence of a single accident (minor or major). I was amazed and impressed as would our visitors if they went home with a similar view of our district.
We can turn negatives into positives, tragedy into triumph – it just takes a collective effort. Please be safety conscious on our roads.