Adventure Tourism Review ‘Extended’

 Emily Jordan

Back in September we predicted the review of the Adventure tourism industry in NZ would probably take years and not months, so it comes as no surprise to hear that the review has just been been ‘extended’.

The review was instigated following a request made by Chris Jordan, father of death of British tourist Emily Jordan who drowned whilst river boarding in the Kawarau River Gorge in April 2008. He called NZ safety regulation “no better than third world” and wrote to John Key asking for action to improve standards within the industry.

In his letter to Mr Key, Mr Jordan explained that he has spent 16 months investigating the way that extreme sports firms are regulated in New Zealand and was “appalled” at what he had found.
He said “It is vital that more young people do not die in this way. It is a tragic, unnecessary waste and they leave many grieving people behind for whom life is forever changed. This situation is damaging New Zealand’s reputation worldwide.

In an article in today’s ODT Department of Labour group workplace policy manager Craig Armitage said that the two month extension was

“To give operators sufficient time to engage more fully with the review, given the summer period would be particularly busy. The review team is continuing to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and the extra time will allow for more robust stocktakes of risk management and safety provisions in the adventure and outdoor commercial sectors in New Zealand and internationally”…The final report will now be sent to Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson for her consideration by May, 31 next year. The public consultation period for the review closed last Wednesday.”

“Engage more fully” we read this as operators may be giving the process the cold shoulder, is it business as usual for the adventure tourism industry? As long as the money is coming in and visitor numbers are high operators will see no reason to participate in the review. They may be hoping the whole tiresome thing will just disappear if they ignore it for long enough.

The article goes on to state

“Queenstown Lakes District Council outgoing chief executive Duncan Field had been selected by the council to represent Local Government New Zealand on the (review) steering group and the project working group.

He told the Otago Daily Times he was not sure he would be continuing serving on the groups, given he has not been reappointed chief executive.

The council was involved in the adventure tourism industry from the perspective of resource consenting, legislation such as the Shotover River Empowering Act and the harbourmaster function and bylaws.”

We have the impression that the steam has long gone out this initiative and are wondering if the review it is little more than a face saving exercise to restore damaged reputations. If business this summer is good it will appear that objective has already been achieved. Only time will tell. Meanwhile we can be sure that the family and friends of Emily Jordan will be watching and waiting for the outcome.

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