I’ve just returned from The Great Adventure. I know, you must be thinking good Lord where did she go? What did she do? Sounds awesome, can I go?
Actually it was a conference in Wellington for New Zealand’s Adventure Tourism operators who spearhead our tourism industry. From throwing people out of planes, to shoving them off towers, soaking them in white water rafts or just pointing out the birds on a bush walk, these largely small business operators were all gathered together in one civilised room in Wellington to learn from the best (and also from me about getting the most out of their websites and social media efforts) and chew the fat with other like-minded adrenalin entrepreneurs.
Firstly some stats: Tourism is a $65.5 million a day industry in New Zealand. It contributes 9% of GDP and is New Zealand’s 2nd largest foreign exchange earner behind dairy. It brings in around $9 billion dollars a year and 1 in 9 kiwis are employed directly or indirectly because of tourism.
The big changes!
New regulations around safety: This is the big issue for adventure tourism operators as they seek to professionalise the adventure tourism sector following the Adventure Tourism Review in 2010. One fatality any where in the country effects everyone and over the last 3 years this pro-active sector has been thrashing through conversations and reports to develop new, world leading safety regulations. No cowboy operators will be tolerated!
As of 1 November 2014, any adventure tourism business that has not passed a safety audit and registered by WorkSafe NZ will be out. It’s been an enormous task, as you can probably imagine, but hands’ down, the most worthwhile effort this sector could make. More so than marketing even, as these new safety standards and regulations set the bar worldwide for adventure operators.
To help operators with the cost of this, the government has put up $2 million and is providing free advice to get everyone over the line.
As Minister for Labour, MP Simon Bridges said, “no one has the stomach for any more deaths,” and announced that the government were also offering $1500 per business for those who signed up for their auditing process by July 31 to meet the November 1 deadline, which he added was non-negotiable.
These new regs will also add to the many layers that make up our 100% pure brand (gorgeous scenery, unspoilt oceans, outstanding food and wine, accommodations at every level and price point, people going the extra mile), but now adventure visitors who might be thinking of South America, say, can look confidently at how serious New Zealand takes its safety.