Adventure tourism safety laws mulled
A new law will be drafted to ensure safer adventure tourism after a Canadian tourist plunged to his death from a zipline attraction during the Songkran festival in Chiang Mai.
"It's time we have a law to enforce better safety," Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said.
He wants a long-term measure to restore confidence among tourists who enjoy trips which mix sightseeing, exploration and adventure activities.
Ziplining, which became popular five years ago or so, allows tourists on forest treks to travel along a wire from a high area to a lower one by holding onto a pulley.
As well as ziplines, other adventure attractions include riding on banana boats, jet skiing and parasailing -- all of which need stricter controls, according to the minister.
"We've found that legal oversight (for these attractions) is lacking compared to other countries," Mr Weerasak said.
Local administrative bodies supervise some of these activities, but they lack the expertise to understand how the equipment works and should be maintained.
"Discussions between state officials and tourist operators are needed to draw up a framework for the new law," Mr Weerasak said.
Issues involving tourism need to be treated seriously as up to 40 million foreigners visit Thailand each year. Their arrivals are crucial to the economy, he said. On April 13, Spencer Charles, 25, fell from the zipline equipment, operated by Flight of the Gibbon Co, in Mae On district in Chiang Mai.
Police blamed the operator for negligence which led to the accident. Officers suspect the zipline was unable to hold the man as his weight may have exceeded the maximum limit.
Also, only three cables were used to hold him when there should have been eight to ensure safety, according to the investigators.
The death caused local officials to suspend Flight of the Gibbon's Chiang Mai service during the police probe and safety checks, which have been extended to cover all 17 zipline operators in the northern province.
Operators will be invited for a talk on Friday to give their input on the plan for better safety measures, deputy Chiang Mai governor Komson Suwankampa said.