11 Jan 2010

British group wants changes to NZ adventure tourism

10:24 pm on 11 January 2010

A campaign group has been formed in Britain by the families of people who died in adventure tourism accidents in New Zealand.

Maritime New Zealand is rejecting claims it has made no improvements to safety following the death of 21-year-old Emily Jordan in a riverboarding accident near Queenstown in April 2008.

Miss Jordan's father and other UK-based families who have lost members in adventure tourism accidents in New Zealand have formed a pressure group to campaign for better health and safety guidelines.

Miss Jordan's death prompted a government review into the adventure tourism industry.

Mad Dog River Boarding was fined almost $150,000 last year after the company pleaded guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety Act.

But Miss Jordan's father, Chris Jordan, says he is angry nothing has been done to prevent further deaths in the meantime, and told Radio New Zealand's Summer Report there is a need for an extreme sports licensing system.

Mr Jordan says the group acknowledges a government review of the adventure tourism industry is being held, but believes changes need to be made now in order to prevent similar tragedies.

He says the parents of Sarah Bond, 23, who died while quad-biking near Waitomo in 2008, are also members of the group, which does not yet have a formal name.

Mr Jordan says Maritime New Zealand has taken on none of his suggestions regarding riverboarding and another death now is just as likely.

However, Maritime New Zealand's manager of safety policy Sharon Forsyth says that is incorrect.

"We've acted, first of all, to ensure that any immediate safety concerns relating to riverboarding operations are addressed on an individual basis.

"Now that we've got the information from all those individual reviews, we're looking at what broad brush changes are required to be made across the riverboarding operation."

Ms Forsyth says Maritime New Zealand's review will be completed by March or April this year.

The industry-wide government review is due to make its final report in May.

New Zealand's Tourism Industry Association says the government review needs to be completed before any further action is decided upon.