Cash-strapped adventure tourism operators are being offered a helping hand by Tourism Industry Aotearoa so they can complete safety audits.
Many operators covered by the Adventure Activities Regulations are due to undergo their full three-yearly safety audit in the next few months. Without an audit, which costs an average $4-5000, they are not permitted to operate.
TIA is concerned that, due to the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, some operators will struggle to cover their audit costs. TIA members facing hardship will be offered interest-free loans of up to 50 per cent of the safety audit fee.
“This is an unprecedented step for TIA. We have explored the possibility of government funding but have been told by Ministers that none is available, so we are using our own balance sheet to support our members,” TIA chief executive Chris Roberts says.
“Not only are we supporting our operators, particularly small businesses, we are also helping ensure that Kiwi holidaymakers will be able to enjoy these activities over the summer.”
Adventure tourism is a strategically important part of the tourism industry and it’s important that adventure tourism businesses survive the impact of COVID-19, Chris says.
There are currently 312 adventure activity operators registered with WorkSafe. Approximately half of these are adventure tourism operators and the remainder are from the commercial outdoor sector (such as providers of school camps).
Audits are conducted by private sector audit bodies approved by WorkSafe.
“Safety is always the top priority for adventure and outdoor operators. TIA is proud to support this vital sector of our industry through these challenging times.”
Chris says Government Ministers were sympathetic but stated they had no funds available to support safety audits. They ruled out using the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (see below for links to letters from Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Andrew Little and Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis).
“We will look to resume discussions with the Government after the election on the broader issue of providing relief to tourism businesses from regulatory costs and fees,” Chris says.
Operators who want more details of the support available from TIA should email: [email protected]
Click here to read the August 14, 2020, response to TIA from Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Andrew Little.
Click here to read the September 24, 2020, response to TIA from Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis.