Adventure tour operator mandates vaccines for domestic bookings

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
A leading adventure tour operator based in Christchurch has taken a leap, saying it will only take bookings from vaccinated guests.

On Friday, Adventure South announced that from December 1 all domestic bookings would need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Guests over 12 would require proof of full vaccination before taking part in itineraries.

The company said the reason for this decision was health and safety based "given the physical nature of our trips and the close proximity we have to each other and to the locals in the host communities we visit."

Domestic New Zealand guests will be required to email a copy of their completed Vaccination Record Card 14 days before departure. Guests who choose not to be vaccinated will be offered a full refund.

International visitors on future trips would be exempt from showing proof.

General manager Philip Wyndham said the decision was made to give guests and staff peace of mind.

Airlines and the government have been clear with their messaging that vaccines would be required for inbound international travellers, said Wyndham.

It's a "no brainer" that domestic guests should be held to the same conditions as international guests he said.

"We've yet to have any cancellations so far, but it would be ignorant to expect not to receive any," he said.

"The joys of adventure travel and group travel is that camaraderie," due to the close nature of the tours Wyndham said guests would expect their group and guides to be fully vaccinated.

Prior to Covid, 85 percent of Adventure South's custom was from overseas bookings. For the summer season, he says there are 450 tentative bookings via Australia which are expected to be vaccinated.

Talking to colleagues, Wyndam says that there has been support from their guides for 100 percent vaccination.

"In the same way that we expect to check that guides licensing to drive or first aid, we take proof of these documents. It's just going to be another piece of paper that we'll have to keep abreast of."

Adventure South is currently asking for a Vaccination Record Card as proof; however, not all vaccination centres have been providing record cards under current alert levels due to contactless guidelines.

"These cards are not official proof of vaccination," says MoH advice.

The Ministry of Health has said that digital vaccination certificates will be available from the end of November.

If you need proof of vaccination before the end of November a physical vaccination confirmation letter can be requested in 10 working days. These can be downloaded from the My Covid Record website at covid19.health.nz

At the beginning of the month, Air New Zealand said that all international passengers will have to provide proof of vaccination from 1 February. However the airline said it was not yet decided on whether proof of vaccination would be needed for domestic travel.

"We're also looking at the use of rapid antigen tests as an option for those who aren't vaccinated," said the airline.

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