New Zealand drug rules come into effect on Saturday

New Zealand’s new drug rules are to come into effect on Saturday.

Especially meant for the adventure-tourism sector, the new rules are expected to prevent accidents that in recent times have claimed the lives of tourists as well as tourist operators. The need for a new rule was envisaged after a number of tourism workers involved in recent accidents were later found to have had cannabis in their systems. Tourism agencies said that adventure tourism operators have to strengthen the way they manage drug and alcohol-related safety risks under the new rules.

The rules are strict in nature and contain harsh requirements that operators would have to comply with. They empower officials to periodically check adventure tours’ drug and alcohol management programmes. The new rules are expected to reduce risk and maintain the reputation of New Zealand as a safe tourism destination, said acting labour minister, Chris Finlayson.

Finlayson said, ‘This is a strong message to adventure tourism businesses that risks associated with drug or alcohol impairment must be taken seriously. The crucial thing is every operator will have to demonstrate why their procedures are appropriate.’

Many recent accidents in adventure tourism programmes in the nation were related to drugs and banned substances. In January the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) found that the pilot of a balloon that crashed in Wairarapa killing 11 people had used cannabis. There are a number of similar cases where operator negligence is believed to have led to the loss of lives.