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Adventure Tourism in New Zealand

Discuss about the Safety of Adventure Tourism in New Zealand.
 

In the recent due to globalization and easing up of the visa regulations, tourism has become an important economic activity. In New Zealand, one of the rapidly growing sectors in the tourism industry is the adventure tourism sector which has the huge potential to attract both the domestic tourists and the international tourists. The adventure tourism sector comprise of the blend of various commercially operated outdoor adventurous activities which creates excitement and adventure. Adventure travel has also grown as a recreation of the traditional outdoor and wilderness (Bentley, Page, & Edwards, 2008). Over the years the scope of the adventure tourism has increased and comprise of the different activities that are adventure based and such activities which tourists want to experience during their vacations.

New Zealand is a major attraction for those tourists who are seeking adventure and there has been rapid growth in the adventure tourism sector in New Zealand in the recent times. In the year 2012 alone 500,000 international tourists took part in different forms of adventure activities in the country while spending their vacations in the country. The main purpose of writing this literature review is to identify the various safety procedures that are adopted in the adventure tourism sector by the tour operators in New Zealand and identify the established framework for the safety management in the tourism sector in the country (Bentley, Page, & Edwards, 2008).  On an average it has been found that the international tourists spend nearly about $3,200 on the adventure tourism in the country. Most of the tourists who come to the New Zealand for the adventure tourism are the mainly from the following countries such as Dutch, German, Singaporean, UK and tourists belonging to the Canadian origin. The key Asian countries from where most of the tourists like to visit New Zealand are Korea, Japan and China and most of the tourists from these countries like to participate in the adventure tourism when they are spending their vacation in New Zealand.  There are several adventure activities which are basically enjoyed by the tourists during their vacation in New Zealand. These activities are illustrated in the below given figure. The various adventure activities that are enjoyed by the tourists is New Zealand include Sky diving, Jet Boating, Glacier walking, Bungee jumping and lunging.  Tourists also participate in the white water rafting, kayaking and skiing while holidaying in the country. 

Safety Issues in Adventure Tourism Sector

In the recent times the adventure tourism has grown as a major sector in the tourism sector of the country. The risks that are related to the adventure tourism are very high and thus the safety issues that are related to the sector are very important to take into consideration.  There are have been several events in the recent past which has been widely publicized. Management of the risk has become very much important for the organizations which are associated with the different facets of the adventure tourism sector and the adventure activities.  There has growing debate over the concern whether are sufficient framework and policies in place in New Zealand so that the organizations can tackle with the various risks that are related to the adventure tourism sector.  The safety precaution that has been adopted in the adventure tourism sector in a country greatly impacts the choices of the tourists in the selection of the destination for the adventure tourism (Bentley, Page, & Edwards, 2008).  There has been huge impact on the increase in the number of the reported incidents in the adventure tourism sector, which has dampen the morale of the tourists who have selected New Zealand as their destination for the adventure tourism.  It is important to take into account the various constraints that are imposed by the various risks.  It is very much important to identify the different causes due to which the accidents take place in the field of the adventure tourism. There has been growing concern in New Zealand government about the proper safety and the management of the adventure activities in the country.  There are high risks for the participants in the adventure activities. This risk cannot be completely reduced by the risk management alone, but there are rights for the travelers to expect that the proper safety measures will be taken by the authorities who are promoting the different adventure activities in the country.

There is growing scope of the commercialization of the adventure activities in New Zealand as more and more people are participating in the different adventure activities around the country. In general tourism may be defined as a travel by person outside his natural environment for more than a day mostly for the recreation activities and sightseeing purposes. There are several things which has to included in a trip so that it can be called as an adventure trip. These are interaction with the environment, interaction with the culture and the doing various physical activities.  In general practice an adventure trip will comprise of all the above mentioned activities that has been highlighted above.

Literature Review

As per Bentley, Page, & Edwards (2008) adventure tourism may be considered as the commercially guided tour where the main attractor of the tour is some of an outdoor activity that contains the element of the natural terrain, requiring specialized and similar kind of the sporting equipments and the clients feels excited about the tour.  The features of the client may vary depending upon the skills, demographics, emotions, expectations and their experience (Bentley, Page, & Edwards, 2008).

But all the outdoor activities cannot be put under the bracket of the adventure activities as there is very fine difference between the adventure activities and the recreational activities.  The recreational excursions that are undertaken by the client is mostly for the purpose of the relaxation and these not threatening activities.  On the other hand the adventure sport basically relies upon the thrilling experience of the client from the activities and most of the activities basically involve risks. The important factors that works behind such activities are the emotions that are involved with such activities and the process in which such activities are basically accomplished.  The approach that is undertaken in the adventurous activity is very deliberate nature and there is a fear of uncertainty due to the different known and the unknown factors which can result in the life threatening consequences.  It requires experience, physical competence and skills to tackle those challenges. The other researchers suggest that the either the tourists are mass tourists or they are adventure seekers who wants thrill and enjoyment in their tour and and in doing so they constantly expose themselves to the dangers (Bentley, Page, & Walker, 2006).  This fact is used to explain the cause of the decrease in the interest of those activities among the adventure tourists where the risks that are associated with the activities are very less or negligible.  The researcher also found that the increase in the levels of risk among the adventure tourists leads them to undertake more dangerous activities which have high degree of risks associated with it. Though there is not a single scale which can be used to measure the degree of the risk that are associated with the various adventure activities. 

There are several types of the adventure activities and most of the adventure tourism is basically conducted as per the self –organized recreational trips instead of the professionally guided tours. One of the biggest export industries in New Zealand is the tourism industry. The sector contributes to nearly NZD 9.6 billion to the foreign exchange reserves of the country. A total of 9% of the gross domestic product is basically supported by this sector either directly or indirectly.  When added to the domestic expenditure in the tourism sector the net revenue rises to NZD 23.4 billion in the year 2012, which shows a rise of the 2.4 percent from the previous year revenues (Bentley, Page, & Laird, 2006).  New Zealand is recognized in the world as one such country in the world where large parts of the population of the country take part in the adventure activities.  Also many foreign tourists that arrive in the country basically favours the country as a tourist destination for its known rankings as the best adventure activities destination where a wide range of activities are done. The major promotion of the adventure tourism in New Zealand revolves around the best sceneries and the glimpses of the Maori tradition. Since 19th century there are several adventurous activities that take place in the South Island.  The major part of the adventure tourism that comprise of the south Island attraction is the mountaineering. Though there are also other activities which have started in the recent time but mountaineering still holds the central place.  The Queenstown is basically promoted as the adventure capital of the world and it attracts tourists from the different parts of the world. It is one of the most attractive destinations for the adventure seeker tourists in the New Zealand. The main reason in the attraction of the both domestic and the international tourists in Queensland is the scenic beauty of the region, which is a major draw among the tourists.  Various type s of adventure activities take place in Queensland like the bungy jumping and canyonning. The tourism sector and the infrastructure for the tourism in the region is very well developed and it provides support to the character of the region as a adventure activities region.

Commercialization of Adventure Activities in New Zealand

There are various risk factors that are associated with the adventure activities and the amount and the type of risks that are associated with the adventure sports basically leads to the interest of the people towards the activity (Bentley, Page, & Macky, 2007). There are several perspectives which has been used to explain the risks. As per the researcher risks may be defined as an activity which has uncertain outcome and there is high level of threat to the life of the individuals who are undertaking the activity. The outdoor adventures have high degree of risks associated with it and these activities generally involve preparing to the edge and have huge unexpected outcomes.  There are three types so risks that are associated with the adventure tourism industry. These risks can be explained as the absolute risks, real risks and the perceived risks. The actual risk may be defined as the highest level of the risk that is basically related to the natural situation if there are no safety protocols and measures in place. The real risk may be defined as the highest levels of risk that are related to a particular situation in the presence of the appropriate safety measures and protocols.  The perceived risks are generally categorized as those risks which are established by the individuals undertaking the adventurous activity. An individual perception about the risks that are associated with an activity is greatly influenced by the wealth, demographics, technologies and media.

Though the safety and the well being of the tourists has been given the main priority by the UN-World Tourism Organization and the other similar organization but the main problem is that these issues have been largely ignored by the countries and they receive very minimum or negligible attention to the various researches that are done on the tourism industry(Bentley, Page, & Macky, 2007).  In general the type of the thrilling experiences and the excitement that are provided by the adventure activities are situated in such locations which has real hazards. Such hazards have the high potential to cause severe damage to the people and could even lead to death.  There are several complications and legal issues that are related to the accidents that takes place in the adventure tourism sector, and these issues have high impact on the countries which are hosting the different adventure activities. in the recent times it has been concluded that the individuals give due importance to the safety of the activities before undertaking the adventure activities.  There has been growing concern over the safety issues among the international tourists taking part in the adventure tourism and they want experienced guides and take adequate precautionary measures before hand (Smith & Espiner, 2007).

In the adventure tourism sector the risk management of the client is a major cause of concern for the countries that are hosting they adventure tourism like New Zealand. But there is a concern that is all the risk that that are associated with the adventure activities are managed than the excitements and thrill that are associated with such activities will be completely over. 

The major themes that is associated with the adventure tourism sector in New Zealand is the accidents and the safety. These themes have mainly dominated the adventure tourism news in the country for the past one and a half decades. Accidents have the potential to create a negative image about the tourism sector and the various tourist destinations that are there in the country. In New Zealand it was found that most of the accidents that took place in  the adventure activities were related to the falling from the heights while in motion. Thus the preventive measures should take into account the risk of falling from the heights as it is one of the most common factors of risk is associated with the tourism sector (Smith & Espiner, 2007).  Very recently a person died from falling from a very popular high wire playground in the tree adventure at the West Auckland.  Various participants accepted the fact that the lack of the proper safety measures was the main reason behind the death of that person.  This incident brought to the attention of the government the lack sidle nature of the tour operators about the safety of the clients and the lack of the properly trained staff to handle such situations. It has been found in the surveys conducted by the researcher that there is a lack of proper accident prevention measures in the tourism sector in New Zealand. This is the main reason behind the lack of proper cooperation between the healthy professionals, tour operators and the various other sectors which are related to the tourism sector in New Zealand.

The flying and skydiving are also taken up as adventure activities in New Zealand and in the recent times various accidents have been reported where the client either died or suffered grave injuries due to the negligence of the operators and the lack of the cooperation among the different departments.  One of the worst incidents in the adventure aviation tourism in New Zealand is the tragic incident that took place in Wairarapa, New Zealand.  In this aviation disaster almost eleven people lost their lives due to the crash of the hot air balloon. As per the statements given by the family of the victims, the incident could have been avoided as the pilot of the balloon has taken drugs before takeoff.  In another incident there was 19-year old biker who was killed in a quad race due to the negligence of the tour operators as there was no proper safety measures that were adopted by the organizers of the event. There was no provision of the crash helmets at the site and the instructions were not given properly to the participants of the events.

Though safety is the important feature of the selection of the adventure destinations but the reports related to the tragic incidents have hugely impacted the image of the adventure tourism in the country.  Though there are various amount of inherent risks that are related to the different adventure activities but there has been a perception among the minds of the tourists about the safety measures and regulations of the tourism industry in New Zealand due to the various accidents involving the death of the several international tourists.  It is important for the tourists in New Zealand to inquire with the local authorities before visiting any remote locations in the country. There are various campaigns that have been started in the adventure tourism sector in the country so as to attract the attention of the authorities towards the lack of safety measures in the adventure activities that take place in the country. One of such campaigns is run of the facebook with the page name “NZ tourist safety”. This campaign has attracted a lot of attention among the international and domestic tourists alike. The main intent behind this approach was to make the people aware about the different happenings in the tourism sector of the country and the safety measures to be adopted while undertaking different adventure activities. 

It has been found by the researchers that there are several loop holes in the existing regulations that are related to the adventure activities in the country. These gaps and concerns have been highlighted by the various tourists in different websites and forums.  There is wide gap in the safety management framework as it gives permission to the outdoor activities and the adventure activities to be performed with the lower standards of safety.  These gaps have the potential to damage the image of New Zealand as a potential adventure tourism destination in the world. There are basically three different types of regulatory bodies that regulate and frame policies related to the adventure activities in New Zealand (Bentley, Page, Meyer, Chalmers, & Laird, 2001).  These institutions are NZ transport agency, the Civil aviation authority and the Maritime NZ.  There are specified regulations that are associated with each of the authorities.  In New Zealand all the adventure activities are not included in one regulation.  The different clubs and schools do not come under the ambit of these regulations which is a major cause of concern in the tourism industry.

Conclusion 

The review of the literatures related with the adventure tourism in New Zealand revealed the lack of proper safety measures in the country and the impact of the recent events and accidents in the adventure tourism industry on the image of the country as a top adventure tourism destination.  The careful review of the literatuire highlighted the gaps in the regulations that are related to regulate the adventure tourism in the country and the various campaigns that has been run by the people and NGOs to highlight the cause of safety in the adventure tourism sector in the country. 

References 

Bentley, T., Page, S., & Edwards, J. (2008). Monitoring Injury in the New Zealand Adventure Tourism Sector: An Operator Survey. Journal Of Travel Medicine, 15(6), 395-403. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1708-8305.2008.00234.x

Bentley, T., Page, S., & Laird, S. (2006). Safety in New ZealanD's Adventure Tourism Industry: The Client Accident Experience of Adventure Tourism Operators. Journal Of Travel Medicine, 7(5), 239-246. https://dx.doi.org/10.2310/7060.2000.00072

Bentley, T., Page, S., & Macky, K. (2007). Adventure tourism and adventure sports injury: The New Zealand experience. Applied Ergonomics, 38(6), 791-796. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2006.10.007

Bentley, T., Page, S., & Walker, L. (2006). The Safety Experience of New Zealand Adventure Tourism Operators. Journal Of Travel Medicine, 11(5), 280-286. https://dx.doi.org/10.2310/7060.2004.19103

Bentley, T., Page, S., Meyer, D., Chalmers, D., & Laird, I. (2001). How safe is adventure tourism in New Zealand? An exploratory analysis. Applied Ergonomics, 32(4), 327-338. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0003-6870(01)00011-4

Smith, E. & Espiner, S. (2007). The role of the risk and safety in shaping the experiences of guided adventure tourists: A case study of the sea-kayak and multi-day walking participants. Lincoln University.

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