Call for action on water safety

Saturday September 01, 2018 Written by Published in Environment
Water-based activities rate highly with visitors to the Cook Islands. PHOTO: Ian Osborne. 18083140 Water-based activities rate highly with visitors to the Cook Islands. PHOTO: Ian Osborne. 18083140

The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation has called an urgent meetings to discuss water safety guidelines and an improvement in the handling of visitor safety.

 

Meetings will be held on Aitutaki and Rarotonga on Monday and Wednesday.

The safety of visitors on holiday in the Cook Islands, is becoming a major concern for the Cook Islands government and the tourism industry, the Tourism Corporation said in a media statement yesterday.

“In the last 12 months, a number of injuries and drownings have drawn attention to water safety guidelines and lack of an effective legislative framework.

“Preventative measures are needed to be taken by tourism operators and visitors to reduce the likelihood of fatal accidents.

“Simple but crucial steps, such as providing proper equipment and warning of any hazards, will improve water safety for visitors and help save lives.”

According to the Cook Islands International Visitor Survey, 98 per cent of all visitors to the Cook Islands participate in some form of water activity and report a high satisfaction rate (4.4 out of 5).

This means that an estimated 151,135 visitors took part in water activities in 2017 and is likely already higher in 2018. The top six activities include going to the beach, swimming, snorkelling, lagoon cruise, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.

The corporation statement said some of the accidents were not caused by equipment failure, but rather by the handling of water craft by visitors, who were not informed about possible hazards.

“The tourism operator can play a key role in preventing these injuries by implementing simple safety measures such as establishing and enforcing clear expectations of rules, informing guests of possible hazards and dangerous passages, and the using of size-appropriate personal flotation devices,” the statement said.

Meetings will be held on Monday September 3 on Aitutaki at the Island Council Chambers at 5pm and Wednesday September 5 on Rarotonga at the Muri meeting house at 5pm.

The Tourism Corporation has invited all water-based operators and relevant government agencies to attend the meetings. 

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