New Zealand's reputation as a safe adventure-tourism
destination remains untarnished, despite accidents involving
death and injury, an industry advocate says.
Evan Freshwater, of the Tourism Industry Association (TIA),
was in Dunedin yesterday helping operators prepare for
compulsory safety audits.
He said it was too early to know whether the recent
helicopter crash, in which 11 tourists were rescued from the
Tyndall Glacier near Queenstown, would have an impact on the
But Mr Freshwater said New Zealand was known worldwide as
having a well-managed and regulated adventure tourism
''Internationally, New Zealand is still very highly regarded
as a safe tourism destination. Everything we're doing is to
make sure New Zealand maintains that position,'' he said.
Otago, particularly Queenstown, had many ''mature'' operators
who had become leaders in safety standards and risk
management, he said.
He also held a workshop in Queenstown on Thursday.
''Queenstown has some very old adventure businesses, they've
had decades of managing safety and have what we would call a
mature safety culture. Safety is led from the top and there
are some prime examples in Queenstown of operators who have
been doing it for such a long time, and doing it well, that
they can't help but have a good operation.''
He said it was in all operators' interest to share safety
knowledge and help each other achieve and maintain the
highest standards, which in part was what the workshops were
''New Zealand's reputation can suffer because of the person
that has the least experience.''
Under new legislation adventure tourism operators had to pass
independent safety audits by November next year, in order to
be registered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and
Mr Freshwater said many of the 25 Queenstown and 17 Dunedin
operators at the workshops already had effective safety
management systems in place, but they needed help with ''the
paperwork'' in order to pass audits.
Some did not know whether they fell under the new
were subject to guidelines set by the Civil Aviation
Authority or Maritime New Zealand.
''Having a safety management system and being audited has
always been a very important part of running a well managed
system. This is just formalising that process and making it
clear to operators what they need to do to pass the audit.''
The cost of being audited and registered would depend on the
complexity of each operation and how prepared operators were,
''It looks to be around $3000 to undertake a two-day audit,
which will last about three years, but there will be a
significant difference between operators.''
Those who failed to complete an audit within the required
time but continued to provide adventure activities would be
committing an offence under the Health and Safety in
Employment Act 1992, the penalty for which was a fine of up
The workshops, which were closed to the public, were held in
13 locations nationally and were organised in conjunction
with Outdoors New Zealand and an independent auditor.
''The key message to operators is they have 12 months from
today to become audited,'' Mr Freshwater said.