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Safety vital for New Zealand adventure tourism operators
All adventure tourism operators, even those not covered by New Zealand's new adventure activities regulations, are being encouraged to adopt industry-accepted safety standards to ensure client safety.
The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIANZ) says that new adventure activities regulations will help address safety gaps identified in the Adventure Tourism Review. However, TIANZ fears that some operators may find them difficult to understand until the supporting guidelines being written by the Department of Labour (DOL) are completed.
TIANZ Advocacy Manager Geoff Ensor explains "the definition of adventure within the regulations is more open to interpretation than we expected. DOL is writing explanatory guidelines, but the regulation scope also puts a greater emphasis on the support and guidance that TIANZ and Outdoors New Zealand are providing to adventure and outdoor operators."
Client expectations of safety are higher than ever while the tolerance for mistakes is very low. This means that even those operators who will not have to be registered and audited under the new system should still consider the value of an external review of their operation.
Ensor adds "an external auditor can offer suggestions based on their experience of other operators in the sector. Due to the nature of their businesses, a number of operators work in isolation and have few opportunities to learn from others. We will be encouraging all adventure operators to be audited."
Ensor understands that a significant number of adventure operators have already voluntarily chosen to undergo external audits, which highlights the strong safety culture that already exists in the adventure tourism sector.
TIANZ is developing an Adventure Operator Safety Guide that is due to be trialled this summer. Content will range from advice on regulations and how to meet the legislative requirements, auditing operations and creating safety management plans. It will also shortly start developing activity specific safety guidelines. Both initiatives were recommended as a result of the Adventure Tourism Review.
The guide and activity specific guidelines will be valuable to all operators in the adventure sector, including those not covered by the new regulations. It will also be available to the non-commercial adventure and outdoor sector, Ensor explains, concluding "we want to encourage those across the sector to adopt consistent, industry-accepted safety standards. New Zealand is already a world leader in adventure tourism and these initiatives will keep us on the leading edge."
In the meantime, it is important that operators notify DOL about their operation so it can decide whether they will need to be registered.
For background information about the Adventure Tourism Review and TIANZ's role in adventure tourism safety go to www.tianz.org.nz/main/adventure-tourism-review
6th September 2011 - TIANZ APPOINTS ADVENTURE TOURISM SAFETY SPECIALIST
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