With the ever growing tendency of the dullness of life especially in cities, it is a rising urge to seek fun through leisure. There are institutions fulfilling our needs for adrenaline rush and feelings of accomplishment because the real outdoor activities have far less been narrowed.
Most people are aware of the risk they are putting themselves through when they choose to indulge in adventurous activities with the potential of injuries. But while we seek pleasure, only our conscience is not enough to ensure that we are safe. The enterprises running the adventure business are equally, if not more, responsible to provide their clients opportunities of entertainment with sufficient protection against the possible dangers.
Are we paying attention to the possible doubts regarding the safety measures employed by these businesses? Can this approach of blindly seeking momentary exhilaration become costly for our health? How may we hold the organisers and government regulatory mechanisms accountable for our paramount security?
Adventure Industry and Safety Within
Adventure translates to wilderness in its essence. Activities like hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, bungee jumping, paragliding, abseiling, zip wiring, assault courses, ice climbing and mountain biking among many others quench our thirst for experiencing the aliveness in us.
The urge to partake in adventurous activities is inbuilt in humans to an extent that adventure tourism has gained a large-scale popularity worldwide, which has created a platform for people profiting from providing such opportunities. Adventure industry equips us with possibilities of being a part of multiple experiences of natural adventures guided by human interventions. Problems arise when these interventions are not guided enough to meet the required safety provisions for the consumers of the services.
Alpine Police Records in Austria showed that in the span of 22 years until 2018, there had been 110 deaths every year on average while hiking on the Austrian Alps. Similarly in Germany, airborne sports like paragliding see mortality at the rate of around 10 deaths annually. Incorrect use of break lines, mistakes in take-offs and landing, pilot errors, collision with objects and collapse of the paragliders are reported to be some causes. Mortality rate in trekking in Nepal is about 0.14 for every 1000 trekkers. Fatalities resulting from altitude sickness have been increasing. This information is derived from the website of the National Centre for Biotechnology Information.
An assessment of 27 adventure sports in 2003 conducted in New Zealand showed that snow sports, bungee jumping and horse riding comprised major challenges in managing the risk involved, reports CABI. Risk factors were identified to be multiple along with slips, trips and falls.
According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, there had been around 1,171 ride-related injuries in the amusement sector which is still a high number compared to the yet higher statistics of 2016. Information is taken from the webpage of Mcmath Woods P.A.
A study on New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry safety, ‘The Client Accident Experience of Adventure Tourism Operators Tim A. Bentley, Stephen J. Page, and Ian S. Laird’ found out that overseas visitors are more likely to be injured than the domestic ones.The research further found that over 44% of the claims under “Recreation and Sport” comprise overseas visitors.
International Safety Standards
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions is a global union for the industry of attractions. It is a trade alliance between member countries where sharing of tools and resources for ensuring safer and more profitable delivery of diverse experiences. It has a gathered body of various businesses like amusement parks, theme parks, attractions, water parks, resorts, family entertainment centres, zoos, aquariums, science centres, museums, cruise lines, manufacturers, and suppliers.
ASTM International F24 Committee on Amusement Ride and Devices develops standards for amusement park rides as well. The member countries are obliged to keep up with the devised regulations and standards in conducting the industry.
The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) is an organisation concerned with the safety protocols in adventure tourism after the global pandemic hit the world in 2019. Its frameworks are compiled to provide for a safer and healthier restart to the tourism industry. The practices based on these protocols follow the latest guidance from the World Health Organisation. The World Trade and Tourism Council (WTTC) has supplemented its insights by dividing the protocols into four pillars of safety standards so that the individual national legislation can be brought in a linear alignment.
- India: Dedicated institutes namely Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI), National Institute of WaterSports (NIWS), The Indian Association of Professional Rafters (IAPRO), Parachuting Federation of India and Indian Mountaineering Foundation are in place and apply ‘Basic Minimum Standards’ for adventure tourism related activities.
- UK: National reviews of safety measures conducted by adventure activities centres made way for the Activity Centres (Young Persons’ Safety) Act 1995. The Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004 requires that the providers of adventure facilities hold a licence.
- New Zealand:Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016 requires adventure activity operators to pass a safety audit. The injured adventurers submit their claims under the New Zealand Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Scheme (ACC).
Regulations in Nepal
Land adventures like mountain biking, bungee jumping, rock climbing, mountain climbing, trekking, hiking, jungle safaris etc. are quite an attraction in Nepal. The Trekking Agencies Association Nepal is there to provide updates on trekking conditions in Nepal as they happen. One cannot enter the major trekking regions of Nepal without a permit.
Aerial sports like bird watching, mountain flights, ultralight aircraft flights, paragliding and hot air ballooning have been popular since the late 90s. Recreational Aviation Regulation 2016 replacing the Aviation Sports Regulation 2012 has been supplied with a pilot and operators’ Code of conduct in order to promote adventure tourism in Nepal with the guarantee of necessary safety preconditions.
Safety protocols for the operators of water sports like rafting, kayaking and canoeing as well as for other business infrastructures involved in adventure tourism are regulated with a few provisions under the Labour Act 2048.
On the basis of safety guidelines furnished by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Government of Nepal working hand in hand with the Department of Immigration has aided the travel sector with a new safety protocol for international travellers to Nepal in this post-Covid scenario.
Safety standards for the amusement rides and other important adventure sectors are still not clear and enough.
The purchasers of adventure services should be aware about their body fitness and capabilities. Likewise, the companies relating to action sports should be careful in providing a complete and dependable set of instruction. They should pay heed towards doing away with defective equipment and hazardous conditions of the play. Strict supervision with heightened qualification level needs to be employed. The industry should focus on risk management and flow true information about rate of injuries. Alternatives for possible catastrophic events must also be considered.
The participants of adventure sports should definitely factor in the risk they expose themselves to but the fatalities must not come about as a result of faults in maintaining the security standards by the organising groups. Unforeseen circumstances may be present but we should be best prepared to control and reduce them.