New website packed with safety tips for adventure tourism operators

Thursday 10 May 2012, 4:50PM
By Tourism Industry Association New Zealand

A new world-first website offers adventure tourism and commercial outdoor operators a “one stop shop” for information and advice on running a safe operation.

Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key launched the website today, on behalf of the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) who developed it with support from Outdoors New Zealand and funding from the Department of Labour (DOL). Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson also attended the launch, which took place at TRENZ 2012, the New Zealand tourism industry’s biggest annual international business event.

SupportAdventure was created as a result of the government-led Adventure Tourism Review and is the first significant initiative to come out of the review recommendations. It is believed to be a world-first to have an industry-created website of this type.

“The review found that adventure and outdoor operators would value one central, credible source of safety information. While plenty of information exists on how to keep staff and clients safe, it was widely spread and often difficult to find,” TIA Advocacy Manager Geoff Ensor says.

Content on SupportAdventure is based on extensive consultation with the adventure and outdoor sector, including 25 operator workshops attended by more than 300 operators, as well as discussions with a range of individual businesses and organisations.

A draft version of the site went live in December 2011 to give users the opportunity to evaluate its content and suggest improvements.

“We’ve had a great response from operators and overall the feedback has been really good. Start-up operators in particular have told us that this site has been incredibly useful in helping them ensure they were doing all they could to keep clients safe,” Mr Ensor says.

SupportAdventure includes detailed information on how to develop a safety management plan, legislation relevant to the adventure and outdoor sector, and links to other useful websites.

“There are tips and advice on the website that every operator will find valuable, whether they are just starting out or have years of experience. While it will help operators who have to be registered under the new adventure activities regulations to meet DOL requirements, it will also be really useful to volunteer organisations, clubs, schools and tertiary institutions,” Mr Ensor says.

“Client expectations of safety are higher than ever while the tolerance for mistakes is very low. This means that even those operators who will not have to be registered and audited under the new adventure activities regulations should still aim to adopt the industry-accepted safety standards set out on this website.”

It's critical that 'adventure' remains in adventure tourism, but the sector has a responsibility to ensure that these experiences are being delivered within a strong safety framework, Mr Ensor says.

Ash Burgess of Bike Wellington – Mountain Bike Adventures says she has found the information on  SupportAdventure enormously useful.

SupportAdventure is exactly what its name says. I am starting an adventure tourism company and was happy to have stumbled across this clever website. Starting up an adventure tourism company is exciting and I wanted to do it right. I knew that I needed a plan, but starting the plan was the hard part. The 'safety management system' section was a breath of fresh air. It showed how to structure my plan with handy checklists that ask the questions that need to be asked for each category. The website isn't full of technical jargon. It is simple, helpful and easy to follow.

“It is refreshing to see a website that knows the community. SupportAdventure breaks down the government requirements, how (and why) to go about auditing, and has heaps of links to other carefully chosen resources. Thanks Support Adventure for making it a whole lot easier for us to have safer adventures!”

Click here for more information about the Adventure Tourism Review.