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Thursday, April 3, 2014

This safety thing again

So another couple of tourists got robbed and assaulted - a particularly vicious attack this time.  A dreadful thing. But as I keep underlining it is so rare that it was major news.  Been on all the tv news and current affairs shows.  The chattering classes on talkback radio went on and on about it. 

It must be set against the other news in that area - the fact that crime has been steadily dropping in most centres. Murders are showing a bit of an increase, but the statisticians tell us that it is not a trend, just an aberration this year.  

Sexual assaults are also up - reported sexual assaults, and that's the key. More women are prepared to come forward and complain about low-lifes that commit that sort of crime. Thus reported crime may be up but we don't know about this type of assault overall because there is no data to compare.

The two young women who were attacked in this latest event were hitch-hiking. Normally that's  safe enough if there are two of you, but it just shows that there are exceptions to any rule.

My advice is take a careful look at the driver and passengers and if they look dodgy, give it a miss.

Having said that, I have very occasionally been forced to hitch-hike - usually because there is no public transport available. I once got picked up at about 11pm by a bunch of hard Maori dudes travelling from Hamilton to the casino in Auckland.  They were all drinking beer and looked less than savoury - but, hey, it was late and I needed to get home. They were great. We had a lot of laughs, I even had a beer with them and they dropped me right at my home in a suburb of Auckland. As I said, there are exceptions to every rule. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Adventure Tourism Is Dangerous - That's Why You Do It!

The safety of adventure tourism has recently attracted attention.  The government did a study and report in 2009-10 which has become the basis of tuning up the adventure industry since then. 

But the simple fact is that adventure tourism is, by its very nature, risky.  Those activities - bungy jumping, jet boating, paragliding, tandem parachuting, white water rafting et al - really are dangerous. 

Sure, by careful attention to operational procedures the danger is minimised, but all the professional competence and standards rules can't totally eliminate the risk. 

It's like air travel. Highly regulated operational procedures can't stop something like MH370. S**t happens.

The Tourist Industry Association in NZ takes a lead role in adventure tourism, helping to strengthen safety across this important visitor sector.  The  underlying premise is that the 'adventure' must not be taken out of adventure tourism and that decisions made by government and other organisations need to reflect the reality of operators working in the adventure tourism sector.

To which I'll say amen to that. 

A while back a rafter was drowned in an unfortunate event in Queenstown - which is tragic. 

But the next thing customers were opting out because it was "dangerous".  Well of course it's bloody dangerous - why else would you do it?  Without the danger it's just an expensive and uncomfortable way to get wet, cold and miserable. 

The potential for danger is what gives you the adrenalin rush.

The torism industry is quick to weed out the cowboy operators who are usually under-capitalisded and in shaky financial state - tyhe sort of conditions that lead to safety short cut. 

If you are a visitor here look at the operator with whom you are contemplating an adventure.  If they look professional - if their whole presentation is one of competence -  you can be reasonably sure that they are complying with all the right safety standards.

Membership of the TIA or another industry body is usually a sign that they know what's what and who's who at the zoo. 

So go with them and enjoy the ride. 

For more on New Zealand torurism go to my website A New Zealand Travel Guide