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Outdoors NZ: Positive step forwards in adventure tourism

Outdoors NZ supports positive step forwards in adventure tourism

The Minister of Labour, Hon. Kate Wilkinson, announced today that all New Zealand commercial adventure tourism operators will face new safety obligations from October 2011.

Key among the new requirements is to register on a new database of adventure operators and pass an external safety audit. Many outdoor adventure companies already have audited safety systems in place and these new regulations will formalise this process, closing gaps identified by the recent review.

Outdoors NZ, an umbrella body for outdoor organisations, has been involved in the review since it was announced by the Department of Labour that it would scrutinise safety in commercial outdoor activities after a number of incidents.

Outdoors New Zealand members and commercial operators will be pleased to see some clarity given to the sector on expectations of safety standards’, said Paul Chaplow, Chief Executive, Outdoors NZ. ‘There has been widespread consensus that we can always enhance safety and this step today moves us along that track. There has been concern from members that the review recommendations might impact on the volunteers that deliver outdoor recreation and outdoor education experiences. The Review recommendations make it clear that such activity will not be affected and will provide reassurance to clubs and schools” Mr Chaplow said.

Outdoors NZ also works closely with its’ members that are commercial providers. It is for this reason that Outdoors NZ created “OutdoorsMark”, an outdoor safety auditing tool.

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The Outdoorsmark process gives organisations providing adventure activities an industry benchmark for safety management . “The review confirms the outdoors sectors commitment to safety” Mr Chaplow said “and endorses the usefulness of implementing a safety process to measure an organisations exposure to risk in its activities.”
In the spirit of the outdoors, Outdoors NZ will work together with the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) to help implement the recommendations and work with Government and other adventure tourism and outdoor sector bodies to enable the recommendations to be in place as soon as possible. Outdoors NZ and TIA have recently held nationwide industry forums to discuss the review recommendations, which received a very positive response.

Mr Chaplow says, “While it may never be possible to reduce the risk of serious incidents to zero in outdoor adventures (without fundamentally taking the adventure out of such activities), we believe that operators have a responsibility to ensure they have robust, and audited, safety systems in place. We think the registration scheme will ensure this occurs.’

Mr Chaplow noted that although much work had been done to get the review recommendations to this stage, the next steps signify a considerable increase in work for the outdoors community over the next few years to ensure they are implemented successfully.


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