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Rippled Earth Owner Sam de Reeper says so many tourists arrive believing New Zealand is a theme park and everything is controlled.

Aotearoa’s tourism operators can warn travellers of the risks of adventure activities but should not wrap them in cotton wool, an industry expert says.

During day one of the University of Otago Business School’s Tourism Policy School yesterday, panellists spoke about connecting tourism policy with tourism operators, and the Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations.

In response to a question about visitors’ expectation of risks while undertaking adventure tourism activities, AdventureMark Audit Manager Mike Pennefather says Aotearoa has managed the risks well for a very long time.

“That’s what created such a phenomenal tourism industry in New Zealand,” he says.

While risks need to be communicated very clearly, he did not think it was done badly.

“If you’re going to paddle over a waterfall, we just need to make it very clear that we can’t keep you safe ... but we’re going to do everything that we can [to minimise the risk].

“You get a lot of out of this [experience] because we don’t wrap you in cotton wool. You’re in New Zealand experiencing New Zealand.”

Rippled Earth Owner Sam de Reeper says operators are careful in how they inform visitors of the risks.

“There are so many tourists who arrive here and believe New Zealand is a theme park and everything is controlled.”

He says risk disclosure is “always a conundrum”, especially as they do not want to scare away people who are nervous about the experience.

“It’s an issue we have to look at.”

Tourism Policy School Co-Director Associate Professor Susan Houge Mackenzie says risk disclosure is a complex issue because international visitors to New Zealand are so diverse and have varying interpretations and expectations of risk in adventure tourism activities.

“A key question we should be asking is: to what degree do we need to focus on changing how we regulate tourism activities versus providing better information and risk disclosures to visitors?”

The sixth annual Tourism Policy School is a two-day event which fosters conversations between people across the tourism industry, from local business owners and community leaders to national policymakers and researchers.

This year’s theme is ‘Connecting the Dots: Fostering a cohesive and connected tourism system’.

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