Compulsory driver licensing for commercial jet boat drivers aims to reduce risks involved in the iconic outdoor adventure activity.
At the moment drivers are required to have at least 50 hours of experience before they are eligible to drive commercial boats but the new rule – enforced on August 2 – requires drivers to be fully tested and licensed.
Regular driver competency checks will also be introduced at the same time.
Queenstown’s Shotover Jet boss Clark Scott says some operators – including his company – are already acting within the Government’s proposed changes.
“They will affect all commercial operators but by a very very very small degree.”
“We actually use our authorised person, Marty Black, as a final sign-off after we’ve finished training the driver.”
However, Clarke says the changes will ensure competency checks are more vigorous.
“You will find that the testing from the authorised person may actually be a little more robust than what it has been, even for the likes of ourselves,” he says.
Associate transport minister Simon Bridges who announced the changes yesterday says the overwhelming level of support from operators for the new rule shows how seriously the safety of passengers is taken.
“These rule changes, including the jet boat driver licence and competency checks, essentially formalise the sound practices that are already in place in the industry.
“Given the profile of tourism, and its importance to New Zealand’s economy, there is an expectation that safety is a top priority for operators.”
The jet boating industry has 42 operators and carries over 370,000 passengers a year.
There have been two deaths in the commercial jet boat sector since 1999.