The billion-dollar adventure tourism industry in New Zealand is in line for new rules. Tragedies over recent years involving thrill-seeking tourists have prompted action with comments that changes are long overdue.
Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson said adventure tourism operators would have to sign up to a compulsory registration scheme which is one of the preventative measures that have been identified by a review group. Commercial operators will be required to resit and pass safety audits from time to time.
Adventure tourism sector flight operators are also on the agenda. A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told NZPA that “air operator certification” will be required for tandem hang gliders and paragliders, hot air balloons and microlights.
NZPA reported that the new rule would require adventure aviation operations 'to have certificates similar to those for the general aviation market.' Currently the CAA oversees hang gliding and paragliding activities, and pilots have to be members of the association.
Any rule changes will require cabinet approval.
Last year, Catherine Peters died in a bridge-swinging exercise. According to the New Zealand Herald, Catherine's father, Bosco Peters, wrote to Prime Minister John Key urging action to ensure safety measures in the tourism industry were improved.
“We would have assumed that something like this was already in place long ago. It’s only through the death of Catherine that we realised there’s actually a litany of things that you would be appalled at and could have led to a disaster at any moment,” said Mr Peters.
Between 2004 and 2009 there have been 39 deaths in New Zealand involving outdoor activities, the NZ Herald reported.