Following the death of twenty-one-year-old Emily Jordan, New Zealand’s well-known adventure tourism industry has undergone a complete safety review. The industry was once considered safe beyond any doubt, but has seen its regulatory standards and operating procedures revised in a bid aimed at significantly reducing the amount of injuries caused by ‘adventure’ operators.
Jordan was one of several tourists aboard a ‘river-boarding’ expedition in Queenstown, one of the country’s largest adventure tourism locations. While the rest of her team managed to navigate the river’s rapids and small waterfalls without issue, Jordan drowned during the activity. The company which operated the tour was fined approximately £30,000 for failing to provide safety gear.
It’s a fine that many believe is completely insufficient. Emily’s father appealed directly to the Prime Minister – an action that is responsible for the latest enquiry into the industry’s safety standards. It’s revealed some alarming truths about adventure tourism operators, both in New Zealand and in other popular travel destinations such as Australia, the United States, and Spain.
A licensing system is likely to go into effect in New Zealand, which, alongside the new provisions and safety measures applied to adventure tourism businesses, will eliminate potential for death and serious injury. It’s a measure that many believe is necessary for the business to continue, but some of the most devoted adventure gurus feel that it may cause the industry’s thrills to suffer slightly.
In the end, it’s a difficult balancing act between providing safe service and offering an activity that still appeals to ‘adventurers’. The adventure tourism industry has built its reputation on providing a blend of thrills and adrenaline-fuelled risk. However, it’s a reputation that shouldn’t be ruined as a result of poor safety standards – adventure operators will need to give thrills without injuries.
Most holidayers dream of a tropical beach or cosmopolitan city. But for customers of French travel firm Ultime Réalité, an ideal holiday could involve helicopter chases, kidnappings, and a simulated abduction and kidnapping. The firm is a one-of-a-kind ‘extreme’ holiday provider operating in east France, and it’s rapidly gaining attention throughout the world for its bizarre holiday packages.
One such package from Ultime Réalité’s website combined a harsh, unexpected kidnapping with a four-hour confinement and isolation package in one of France’s historic cellars. Customers have an obligation to purchase the packages during an extended period of holiday or work inactivity, as the company goes out of its way to research, follow, and track its customers before the kidnapping.
It’s part of a service that promises the ultimate thrill. While lawmakers have repeatedly questioned the company’s bizarre business model, adventure tourists appear to be eating it up. For just £1000, customers can experience a day in a simulate hostage situation, complete with armed guards and a set of so-tight-they-hurt handcuffs.
The company is popular amongst high-level executives and important business figures, who have used its services as both a preparatory and preventative measure against kidnappings. The extreme travel company reportedly receives two bookings daily, making it a reasonable cash cow for its 28-year-old founder and chief executive.
However, the unusual service has drawn a reasonable level of attention from local law enforcement agencies. With public kidnappings and other abductions a standard part of service, a number of calls to police have seen the company’s activities interrupted. Employees, however, insist that the service is not illegal, with the customer signing over all liability and consent before the kidnapping begins.
French police agree, adding that the service occupies an interesting area of the law. Given Réalité’s popularity and potential for cash generation, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see such a bizarre and unusual travel service offered internationally.