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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tourism industry claims advances in adventure safety

Police at the scene of the fatal Fox Glacier aircraft crash.
Photo by Sarah Ivey, New Zealand Herald

Significant advances have been made to improve safety in the adventure tourism sector since the tragic plane crash at Fox Glacier, according to the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA).

TIA Chief Executive Martin Snedden
“We sympathise with those who lost loved ones, but it’s important to highlight that lessons were learned and changes have been made since the September 2010 crash to improve safety right across the adventure and outdoor sector,” TIA Chief Executive Martin Snedden says.

TIA has worked closely with the government on the 2009-10 Adventure Tourism Review and subsequent regulation changes.

“Awareness of safety in the sector has never been higher. It's critical that 'adventure' remains in adventure tourism, but we all have a responsibility to ensure that these experiences are being delivered within a strong safety framework,” Mr Snedden says.

Changes to adventure aviation since the Fox Glacier tragedy include the introduction of a world first Adventure Aviation Rule which includes a range of requirements operators must meet. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has also introduced strict requirements for pilots and operators to focus on pre-flight weight and balance calculations.

In the wider adventure tourism sector, regulations have been introduced that make it a legal requirement for a range of adventure operators to be registered with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and undergo regular external safety audits from November 2014.

TIA, supported by Outdoors New Zealand, has developed a website for adventure and outdoor operators
www.SupportAdventure.co.nz which is designed to be a one-stop-shop for help on safety matters. Launched in May 2012, the site was one of the recommendations from the Adventure Tourism Review and provides a comprehensive collection of safety information for operators.

TIA is also developing a library of Activity Safety Guidelines (ASGs) www.supportadventure.co.nz/activity-safety-guidelines for specific adventure activities. The first three – covering canyoning, caving and indoor rock-climbing – were launched last month.

The ASGs are the first nationally consistent approaches to managing safety in these sectors, drawing on the knowledge of recognised private sector experts in each activity, as well as reflecting international standards. ASGs for a range of other activities including heli-skiing, quad-biking, high wire crossing and abseiling, are under development.

The developments taking place in the adventure and outdoor tourism sector will come under the spotlight on Friday, 10 May, when TIA hosts The Great Adventure at Rydges Wellington. This one-day conference will give adventure and outdoor tourism operators an opportunity to meet as a sector to share their experiences, and contribute to building a strong, unified and prosperous sector.

For more details about the event, go to www.tianz.org.nz/main/The_Great_Adventure

“The adventure sector has fronted up to the need for safety improvements and there is wide-ranging support from operators for the changes that are being made. There are limits to what government regulation can achieve – ultimately it is up to operators to take responsibility to do all they can to prevent accidents,” Mr Snedden says.

“The safety work we are doing in New Zealand is being noted internationally and I’m confident it will keep our adventure sector on the leading edge.”
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