New regulations for adventure tourism industry

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Queenstown’s thrill-seeking activities in the adventure tourism industry will soon face tougher scrutiny following a Government decision today.

Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson has announced new regulations for the commercial adventure tourism and outdoor education sectors that will see all operators subject to a safety audit and official registration process.

Regulations will take effect from November 1.

The move is the latest step following the Government-led Adventure Tourism Review, which was sparked by the river boarding death of English tourist Emily Jordan on Queenstown’s Kawarau River in 2008.

Wilkinson says the regulations are designed to ensure operators remain “viable and innovative” while at the same time addressing safety gaps identified in the Adventure Tourism Review.

“Our focus is on activities where hazards need to be actively managed and at the end of the day no operator can afford not to invest in safety,” she says.

Maritime New Zealand – which was involved in the Government review – is welcoming the new regulations, saying there’ll now be a greater level of assurance that high-risk activities will be safer.

“The review found that most adventure operators manage risk well,” MNZ deputy director Lindsay Sturt says.

“Most maritime-based adventure activities, such as commercial jetboating and rafting, are already required to undergo safety audits under maritime rules and will not come under the new system. The changes address gaps in the regulatory framework and will help ensure safety in higher-risk parts of the adventure sector.”

Sitting under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, the regulations don’t apply to organisations that don’t charge fees like schools or voluntary clubs.

There’ll be a three-year transition period from next month to assure compliance. All operators have six months to notify the Department of Labour of their activity before their individual registration begins.