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Adrenaline the only high for industry under new drug regulations

New Zealand’s lucrative adventure tourism industry is facing tougher alcohol and drug regulations.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson yesterday announced proposed changes to legislation that will create an explicit requirement for operators to manage safety risks associated with drug or alcohol impairment, from December.

 "Adventure activities are a significant part of New Zealand’s tourism industry," Ms Wilkinson said.

 "We are sending a strong message to tourism operators that risks associated with drug or alcohol impairment must be taken seriously."

 Adventure tourism businesses will now have to specifically address the possibility of drug and alcohol use as a part of their health and safety management. 

 Operators will then have their drug and alcohol management checked as part of regular independent safety audits.

 The existing programme of regular safety audits by Civil Aviation Authority of aviation operators and by Maritime New Zealand of jet boat and rafting operators will include an audit of drug and alcohol management.

 Under the Health and Safety in Employment (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2011 operators are also now required to notify MBIE what their activities are and whether they have a current safety audit.

 All operators have to pass a safety audit by 1 November 2014 at the latest.

 Wilkinson stressed the importance of education and awareness campaigns as well as the responsibilities of adventure tourism operators to both tourists and the industry.

 Tourism is one of New Zealand's biggest export industries, earning $9.7 billion or 16.8 percent of New Zealand's foreign exchange earnings in 2011.