Safety high on adventure tourism operators' agenda

JAZIAL CROSSLEY
Last updated 05:00 26/03/2013
HIGH WIRE: Ben Norquay makes his way safely at Porirua's Adrenalin Forest. Adventure operators are holding a conference in Wellington in May.
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ

HIGH WIRE: Ben Norquay makes his way safely at Porirua's Adrenalin Forest. Adventure operators are holding a conference in Wellington in May.

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Safety will be a key topic at the first Tourism Industry Association conference for the adventure sector in Wellington this May.

The Great Adventure conference comes after a push to increase safety regulations for adventure tourism operators, with the Government launching the Adventure Safety Review in 2009.

Earlier this month, Labour Minister Simon Bridges issued a new safety audit standard for adventure activities providers, requiring them to pass requirements before they could offer outdoor activities commercially.

Tourism Industry Association chief executive Martin Snedden said many adventure businesses worked in remote parts of the country, so the Great Adventure conference would offer a chance to meet other operators.

"The sector has been the focus of considerable public attention in recent years. This is a timely opportunity to bring operators together to help build a strong, unified and prosperous sector."

It will have sessions on learning from the Adventure Safety Review, the changing face of adventure markets, performing competitively and managing a business in challenging times.

The past six months alone had seen a man fall to his death at Auckland high rope activity centre Tree Adventures, a German climber seriously injured falling into a Southern Alps crevasse, a farmer dying in a quad bike accident in Canterbury and a 10-year-old boy also dying on a quad bike.

Porirua high-wire adventure park Adrenalin Forest, which is visited by about 30,000 people a year, had several cancellations after the death of a man at a similar park in Auckland, owner Jean Caillabet said.

"People need to be taking their own responsibility. We can't be behind them every second and we can't watch them every second. If they make a mistake, the risk is very low.

"The rate of accident is very low. It looks like a very dangerous activity but there is one accident in close to one million."

Wairarapa Quad Adventures co-owner Malcolm Blown said turnover dropped about 30 per cent after Shane White, 10, died in October in a quad bike accident on a Wairarapa farm Shane's family sharemilked.

"It's been reasonably slow for the last six months. We took a bit of a hit from accidents; there was a bit of a stigma."

Most of its business was from corporate customers; that had also eased slightly as budgets were trimmed because it was one of the more high-end options at $195 a head for a 3 -hour tour including rifle shooting and a glow-worm cave visit.

Blown welcomed the safety reviews, praising the SupportAdventure website funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (then the Department of Labour) for providing guidelines for the industry.

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