Three TUT staff members who shared the same vision of creating such a body, took the first steps to gather key-role players in drafting a press release to defend the industry. Dr Dewald Venter, lecturer in Outdoor Recreation and Adventure Leadership lecturer; Dr Pieter Snyman, lecturer in Outdoor Recreation and Francois Nel (from the outdoor retail industry) participated in pioneering this vital process.
The first meeting comprising representatives from diverse adventure bodies took place on 21 February 2020. Despite the strict level 5 COVID-19 lockdown restrictions at the time, the parties agreed that the consultation and liaison process would continue to create an inclusive industry umbrella body.
As a result, the South African Adventure Industry Association (SA AIA) was registered as a non-profit company during level 3 lockdown in 2020. SA AIA was introduced to the National Department of Tourism (NDT) as well as the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC), welcomed, and invited to be represented at these national platforms.
Members of SA AIA comprise representatives from national and international activity-specific outdoor adventure, tourism, adventure recreation, education, development, therapy, ministry, sports associations, various universities and a variety of other associated and related associations, including Youth Tourism South Africa and House of Crew. Both these associations deal with the youth and freelance tourist guides as well as individuals from the hospitality and entertainment sectors.
A SA AIA governing body was established and Dr Snyman, Dr Venter and Mr Michael Allkins, from the Faculty of Management Sciences, were elected to serve on it.
Recently, industry experts from the SA AIA executive management, Rob Thomas, an International Mountain Guide and Search and Rescue Trainer, Dr Snyman and Dr Venter, drafted a Safety Management Guideline document that will inform the broader public about the minimum requirements and standards that should be considered when selecting an adventure service provider or operating an adventure service delivery business.
The guideline document has been distributed to:
- Adventure operators involved in the adventure industry for any adventure-based purpose such as recreation, education, development, therapy, counselling, ministry, sport, tourism, adventure-based experiential learning, leadership, facilitation, or any similar service.
- Schools, churches, events companies, or any individual person or organisation who send their members to adventure service providers for the purpose of adventure-based learning, team building, leadership development and training, bonding, induction, retreats, exhibitions, fairs, etc.
- Government departments at local, regional, provincial and national levels.
- Young people who are currently working in the adventure industry, or who want to start their own adventure businesses, in order to align themselves to create a more reputable and acceptable adventure business, based on acceptable industry standards.
According to Khotso Micha (SA AIA Executive Director) the public has to date been unaware of what to look for and what good standards for adventure practices are. This document serves as a guideline to inform the industry and public what to look for.
Amongst others, the guiding document provides an overview of a safety management system; safety policies; codes of conduct; disciplinary policy; risk assessments; standard operating procedures; training records; incident and emergency management procedures; and communication to participants and clients.
“SA AIA intends to serve as the united and collective voice of the Southern African Outdoor and Adventure Industry. The adventure industry has suffered greatly from its historical fragmentation, resulting in compromised quality, skills, safety and risk management systems, procedures and standards. Recent accidents and incidents in the industry emphasised the importance of a unified approach to mobilise the response and potential of the adventure industry in our country,” says Dr Venter.
Dr Snyman who is actively involved in the adventure related experiential learning field (this includes school camps), is hopeful that this document will lay a foundation for the development of much needed similar standards and documents, addressing the absence of proper guidance to the broader industry.
People who are interested in obtaining a copy of this document can download it from:
Alternatively, send an email to: Venterdh@tut.ac.za, SnymanPL@tut.ac.za or AllkinsME@tut.ac.za.