PM backs drug testing in adventure tourism industry


The Government will investigate the possibility of drug and alcohol testing in the adventure tourism industry.

The release this week of critical reports into the January 2012 Carterton hot air balloon fatal accident and the September 2010 Fox Glacier skydive deaths has found that cannabis was in the systems of staff from both companies.

Prime Minister John Key told media at the final day of tourism trade show TRENZ in Queenstown today (Thursday) that issues of drug use within the industry must be dealt with.

“In my view it’s totally unacceptable to have people offering adventure tourism and having significant drug and alcohol in their system,” he says.

“We need to solve that issue and we’re going to go away and look at how we might achieve that.”

It hasn’t been proven in either case that cannabis was a contributing factor to the accidents.

Toxicology tests performed on the body of balloon pilot Lance Hopping, 53, returned positive for cannabis. All 11 people on board were killed.

Evidence of cannabis use was also found in the two Fox Glacier tandem masters after the accident, in which nine people died.

“We already have compulsory or mandatory drug testing in certain critical industries…and I think this is something that we have got to go away as a Government and see whether we need to do more in terms of the tourism sector,” says Key, who is also Tourism Minister.

“Any death is one death too many and our aim is to ensure that those experiences are safe for people.”