Safety standards in the tourism sector will be tightened following an adventure tourism industry review unveiled yesterday.
The Department of Labour has released the Adventure Tourism Safety Report, which calls for tourism operators to be part of a compulsory registration scheme, with up-front and ongoing external safety audits.
Prime Minister John Key called for the review after receiving a letter from the father of English tourist Emily Jordan who died after getting trapped underwater on the Kawarau River during a trip with Mad Dog River Boarding in April 2008.
While the report states there isn’t a fundamental problem in the way the industry is run, there are “gaps in the management framework which allow businesses to operate at different standards than those generally accepted”.
Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says New Zealanders need to maintain their image of providing tourists with experiences of a lifetime.
“We have a fantastic international reputation and it’s important we make it clear that our safety practices are world-leading,” Wilkinson says.
“By introducing a registration scheme we will know exactly what adventure activities are on offer and all users, whether they are tourists or New Zealanders, can be assured that any associated risks are being managed,” she adds.
Destination Queenstown Board chairman Mark Quickfall says the review is particularly relevant to the resort considering Queenstown is the backbone of the country’s tourism industry.
“Adventure tourism is a $3 billion industry in New Zealand and it’s important that we do our utmost to get it right. We do have a high level of safety across the industry but there will always be areas for improvement.
“We welcome any guidelines which help keep New Zealand’s adventure tourism sector a world leader,” Quickfall says.
The Department of Labour will report back by November 30 with proposals on the design of a new system.