Several destinations in India are known for their adventure tourism activities. Be it Rishikesh for its bungee jumping. Bir and Billing for its paragliding or Kolad for its river rafting, several places across the country have developed adventure tourism hubs that attract many an adrenaline junkie. And now, to promote adventure tourism further and take it to new heights, tourism Minister KJ Alphons has launched the Government guidelines on adventure tourism in India. The guidelines that covered land (15), air (7) and water-based (7) activities were released yesterday in the capital. Adventure activities included in the guidelines are mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, and river rafting among other sports.
The Minister emphasized on the need to develop global standards for India to become a well sought after destination. Tourism Secretary Rashmi Verma said that the new guidelines were formulated in consultation with all stakeholders and action will be taken against those who don’t follow the guidelines. Not oly will this help adventure tour operators implement safety precautions effectively, it will also draw detailed code for operating procedures, guide role, requirement of important equipment and medical procedures.
Here are the guidelines for various activities:
Bungee Jumping –
The jump staff particularly the jump masters should be properly trained and have vast experience in this activity. They should possess a calm and mature attitude and have an eye for detail/errors. They require a very high level of physical fitness, self-discipline, excellent communication and risk management skills and also the motivation to perform these activities.
Equipment – The equipment used for bungy jumping should be certified and procured from reputed companies. The storage and maintenance of the equipment have to be proper. Regular inspection of the equipment should be carried out and a record should be maintained. No unauthorized person should have access to the equipment. All the discarded equipment should be removed from the site and destroyed.
Camel Safari –
Camel Guides: Basic minimum qualifications and experience:
a) The animal should be healthy and of a good size. The camel should not be too young since a young camel is often not strong enough to carry the weight of a rider.
b) All camels in Rajasthan are Dromedaries (with a single hump) and the saddle used on safaris seats, two people. Two persons should get on the same camel only if their combined weight is below 65 kgs.
c) The tack used on the camel must be of good quality and comfortable for both camel and rider.
d) Stirrups must be provided with the saddle for the riders.
e) The girth must be secured properly, otherwise, the saddle might slip and it is a long way down for the rider.
Training Programmes for Camel Guides should include:
a) Good desert knowledge and field training in desert ecosystems.
b) Provide vernacular medium literature for local guides.
c) Training in soft skills like communication, hospitality & hygiene.
d) Importance of being well turned out.
e) First Aid training to handle medical emergencies and also scaled viper bites and scorpion stings.
f) For multiday camel trips, it is recommended to limit distance per day to under 20kms on camelback.
Suggested Minimum Qualification and Experience for Camel Guides:
a) First Aid certification.
b) Should have comprehensive knowledge of desert ecosystems.
c) Minimum five years experience of working with animals.
Equipment required during a camel safari
a) Good Binoculars/ Spotting Scope
b) Optional – Good camera
c) Books and Field Guides for Desert Birds/Mammals/Snakes/Insects etc are a must
Guides and instructors who are supervising climbing and abseiling activities should, as a minimum, hold valid certificates for the following:
a) A minimum 8 hour (1 day) first aid course provided by a recognised and qualified provider.
b) Basic Mountaineering Course from any of the National Mountaineering Institutes and be certified by an MOI Qualified Instructor to have assisted climbing and abseiling activities for a minimum of 100 hours OR Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) recognised Sports Climbing Instructors course or should have sufficient experience certified by suitably qualified Coaches/Instructors duly recognised by IMF.
a) The correct use and proper maintenance of climbing equipment are essential for conducting safe climbing and abseiling activities and should never be taken lightly.
b) Although these standards do not cover the fitting or construction of fixed protection systems, these systems should be rated by the manufacturer and have a quantifiable safe working load. As a minimum standard for such systems, operators must adhere to a safety factor of 3 in accordance to the operator’s weight limitations. In addition, fixed protection systems must be proven to withstand 10KN (1 ton) without displaying any visible deformation or damage. In order to fully understand appropriate fixed anchor/ protection systems, an operator must also have sound knowledge of static/dynamic load and fall factors.
Hot Air Balloon:
To fly Hot Air Balloons one must have a Balloon Pilot License issued by DGCA.
If an operator employs Foreign Pilots then those Pilots must have a Valid FATA (Foreign Aircrew Temporary Authorization) which is issued by DGCA.
As part of all Pilot license requirements, every Pilot must be having a Medical Certificate endorsed by the relevant Civil Aviation Authority.
Equipment care and maintenance
Balloons are certified aircraft and, as such, are regulated by the D.G.C.A. They must meet manufacturing standards and are subject to periodic inspections, just like a commercial aircraft. All Balloons must be registered with the D.G.C.A. and its registration no. displayed on the Balloon.
Adventure guides: Basic minimum qualifications and experience:
a) Pilots must have minimum P4 level training as a solo pilot, achieved 100 hours of solo flying and minimum 100 km xc flight. A conversion course to tandem pilot must be undertaken.
b) 50 non-commercial flights as sports tandem pilot before converting to commercial flying.
c) If available, the pilot should be duly certified by an accredited national association.
a) P5 solo rating on FAI safe pro levels.
b) Worked as trainee instructor with a reputed instructor for 2 years.
c) Taken instructor certification from an accredited association.
a) EN /SHV/DHV/AFNOR certified wing and reserve parachute.
b) Certified harness and helmet. SOPs & Operating Instructions
a) Passenger should be clearly briefed on basics of flight and risks involved.
b) Staff introductions and their training.
c) The passenger should sign liability release waivers.
d) Passenger/pilot should wear appropriate clothing that is safe and comfortable for the task and weather.
e) No aerobatic manoeuvres to be done with clients.
f) No overloading or underloading of equipment.
g) Should fly conforming to VFR and in VMC. Cloud or night flying is strictly prohibited.
h) Any incident to be fully documented and reported.
Lead guides for water sports activities should, as a minimum, hold the following:
a) A minimum 16 hour (2 day) First Aid and CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) valid certificate from a recognized National or international body and a certificate from the operator that the individual has experience of minimum 2 years in assisting in the particular activity and is independently capable of guiding groups and carrying out rescue operations. A WRT (Whitewater Rescue Technician) certification is highly recommended for guides on all grade IV and above rivers.
b) A log book containing an authenticated record of river running experience.
a) Life jackets or Personal Floatation Devices ( PFD’s) must meet the minimum buoyancy requirement, be appropriate for the intended activity, be certified/approved by Indian Standards Institute, US coastguard, British Canoe Union or equivalent.
b) Throw-able rescue devices/rescue bags must be available for immediate use.
c) Safety Kayaks must be available in the immediate vicinity (within visual distance) for prompt rescue with personnel duly qualified to operate/carry out rescue operations.
d) Helmets are mandatory for all rafting trips.
e) During cold weather operations, wetsuits and spray jackets are recommended.
All rafting activities must begin with a thorough safety briefing. Operators must ensure that clients are briefed about the appropriate dress code, medical concerns and age limit prior to the rafting trip. The briefing must highlight the equipment used, do’s and don’ts, falling out of rafts, rescue bags, flips, rescue and emergency procedures. The correct drill for rescue by a safety kayaker must also be demonstrated. A liability waiver and medical form clearly highlighting the risk involved and that participants are in good health, without any serious medical concerns, must be signed by all participants prior to the commencement of the activity. Participants with any medical condition making them unfit for participation must not be allowed to participate. All rafts must have a rescue bag and all rafting trips must carry a First Aid kit, a repair kit and a pump.
a) Lifejackets: No rafting activity should be undertaken without wearing a lifejacket throughout the time spent on the water. The life jacket must must have adequate buoyancy, should be fastened properly and checked by the instructor prior to commencement of rafting and checked again above major rapids (grade III and above). The lifejacket must be of the appropriate size for the intended user.
b) Guides: No rafting activity should be conducted without the presence of trained guide/s. No single rafts must be operated, at least one raft and one kayak.
c) Alcohol/drugs during the activity and at least six hours prior to the activity is strictly prohibited.
d) Signboards: With rafting rules, medical concerns, age limit, dress code and safety rules should be put up at a prominent place in Hindi, English and local language.
e) No rafting activity should be conducted in the dark and preferably finish an hour before dark.
f) Age limit: 14 years on all sections of the river and relaxed to 10 years on grade II, easy sections.
g) Helmets must be worn by all participants including guides during rafting.