Managing risks in adventure travel
Adventure travel is on the rise, demand is strong but what can operators do to manage the associated risks? Risk management may include the following: –
- Information. The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 (PTR) provides that specific information should be given to travellers before they book. Know what this information is and make sure that you are providing it.
- Itineraries. These are often indicative only and may be subject to change as a result of local conditions. Your customers should understand that there may be some on tour flexibility without any guarantees about specific routes, seeing specific places or animals or having specific interactions.
- Fitness. Customers may need to have a particular level of fitness or physical ability to go on a particular trip and may be required to bring their own appropriate equipment.
- Specific requirements. You may not be able to cater for specific requirements such as those applicable to reduced mobility, medical needs or for specific dietary requirements. Under the PTR you must provide general advice as to the suitability of your arrangements for clients with reduced mobility.
Managing specific risks
- Liability. Your liability as a tour operator is imposed by the PTR. You need to clearly set out your legal responsibilities in your booking conditions and protect your position as much as you can.
- Health and safety. When operating in remote locations there is an increased risk that if things go wrong, it can be serious. Therefore, health and safety risk assessments are essential. Have a strategy to mitigate damage and deal with problems. Have people on the ground (either your employees or suppliers) who are properly trained and know where to turn.
- Your customers – make suitable insurance a condition of the booking.
- You – claims against you in the UK, not your supplier in destination, are likely to be made. Make sure that you are fully and properly insured to cover the risks involved in what you do and how you operate.
- Your suppliers – ensure that they hold insurance to cover claims.
- Indemnities. The contracts you have with your suppliers need to protect you. This includes obtaining appropriate indemnities. Extreme care needs to be taken with the wording of these. Other key considerations in supplier contracts include the applicable law and jurisdiction (ideally English Law and English Courts) and the suppliers’ insurance obligations. Ideally use your own agreement drafted by a suitably experienced legal professional or seek advice on supplier contracts before you sign them.
- Waivers. Waivers excluding tour operator liability for personal injury or death caused by your negligence are not enforceable so seek advice if you are considering one. Where your suppliers ask your customers to sign waivers, be aware that this may affect any indemnity you have, and therefore your ability to recover from the supplier.
Know when to seek advice whether that be specialist training, insurance advice, legal advice, health and safety risk advice or disaster relief and trauma management.
Please note this information is for general guidance only and is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.
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