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Regulations drawn up for adventure tourism - how will this impact windsurfing instruction?

New safety regulations for the adventure tourism industry will come into force from 1 October 2011, says Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson.

The Government announced in August that adventure tourism operators would be required to be registered and undergo a safety audit.

The new regulations come under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, making it an offence to provide activities involving significant hazards and some level of instruction or leadership without a current safety audit certificate.

They won’t apply to organisations that don’t charge fees, like schools or voluntary clubs or groups.

“These regulations will fill safety gaps identified in the Adventure Tourism Review and help keep New Zealanders and overseas tourists safe, while ensuring operators can remain viable and innovative,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“They will ensure that the industry is regulated appropriately and that injury prevention remains the top priority.”

The registration scheme will be run by an organisation that will be appointed by the Department of Labour.

Safety auditors will also need to be accredited by this organisation in order to carry out audits of operators.

There will be a three-year transition period, by the end of which all adventure tourism businesses must be registered and operating under a current safety certificate.

“I expect operators will respond quickly to get registered and obtain their certificate as they already maintain strong safety measures and will want to promote this fact.

“The three-year transition period recognises that we have approximately 1500 operators that will need to be registered and audited. It’s important that in setting up this safety scheme we do it once and do it right.”

Ms Wilkinson says industry groups will also work to strengthen safety practices within the industry and to develop guidance material.

The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand and Outdoors New Zealand will lead this work and will co-ordinate with other sector and government bodies.

The Department of Labour will seek feedback in the development of the regulations.

Questions and Answers

How much Government funding is involved in setting up the safety scheme?

The cost to the government of delivering all the initiatives will be about $1.2 million over five years and will be met by the Department of Labour. This includes the costs of setting up the accreditation process for auditors, funding for an industry-led entity to help strengthen safety practices, and to support New Zealand’s involvement in developing international standards for adventure tourism.

Who could run the accreditation and registration scheme?

The Department of Labour is considering a proposal from the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) to run the accreditation scheme and public register. JAS-ANZ is a government-appointed body and accreditation by JAS-ANZ demonstrates the competence and independence of organisations like safety auditors. The Department is also canvassing other options.

Why is there a three-year transition period?

With approximately 1500 operators required to be audited to the new standards, a three year transition period allows time for audits to be conducted. This also allows for existing safety audits to run their term before a new audit is required under the new regime.

What additional work will industry groups undertake?

The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand and Outdoors New Zealand will work with other sector and government bodies as appropriate, to deliver the following initiatives that were recommended in the report:

· establish an industry-led entity to strengthen the safety management framework for the adventure tourism sector;

· develop a generic practice guide for the adventure tourism sector (other than for adventure aviation activities, commercial jet boating and rafting);

· develop additional guidance to better inform operators about their current responsibilities, particularly activity specific guidance;

· ensure that better and more consistent information on the adventure tourism sector is collected, and that its collation is improved; and

· investigate whether instructors and guides should be required to hold qualifications and work only within the scope of their qualifications for some activities.

How much will it cost an operator to register?

The cost of registration will be built into the audit fee. It is anticipated that typical up-front audits will cost between $1300 and $2500, depending on the activity. Periodic audits will be required every three years at a lesser cost. Operators will be able to choose their audit provider and exact costs will become known when these providers complete the accreditation process and compete for business.

How will the risk-profile of a business be decided?

The Department of Labour will work with the industry to develop a standard for the audits. This will include a way of determining risk profile.

What are some likely examples of risk profiles for activities that will be captured by the new regulations?

The Adventure Tourism Review identified a range of activities that would commonly fall under the following levels of risk:

Low risk: Land-based fishing.

Medium risk: Mountain biking.

High risk: River-boarding, canyoning.

The risk involved in an activity will be influenced by the environment it is carried out in. Tourism activities that don’t pose any risks will not be captured by the regulations.

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