Supporting the tourism sector in preparing for an Alpine Fault quake

Tourism operators, scientists, emergency managers and partner agencies gathered in Te Anau this week to attend the AF8 Tourism Forum. The Minister of Civil Defence Emergency Management, Hon. Peeni Henare, who is also Associate Minister for Tourism, opened the Forum:

“The stunning landscapes that attract international and local visitors to the South Island are products of the powerful natural forces that have shaped and continue to shape our country”

“But those natural forces also put our infrastructure, our communities, our people and our visitors at risk.

“New Zealand faces some of the greatest natural hazard risks of any country in the world and, among those, an Alpine Fault earthquake is one of the most significant.

“Our most dramatic tourist destinations are going to be some of the most difficult to support in the aftermath of a large Alpine Fault earthquake.

“Forward planning will play a big role in managing and mitigating the impacts of a large-scale earthquake such as an Alpine Fault rupture.” Mr Henare said.

AF8 Tourism Forum Hon. Peeni Henare

Hon. Peeni Henare, Minister of Civil Defence Emergency Management and Associate Minister for Tourism, opens the AF8 Tourism Forum in Te Anau

The Forum brought together more than 100 delegates, including: Tourism operators, Te Waipounamu rūnanga and rōpu, South Island Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, emergency services, central government agencies, universities and local businesses, to discuss how can the tourism sector be better prepared for large scale natural hazard events, like an AF8 earthquake.

The event featured presentations on Alpine Fault hazard and impact science and tourism research, learnings for the Tourism sector from the Canterbury Earthquakes, examples of current planning, and concluded with a table-top exercise based on the AF8 hazard scenario.

AF8 Tourism Forum table-top exercise workshop

AF8 Tourism Forum delegates participating in a table-top exercise based on the AF8 hazard scenario.

AF8 Science-lead, Dr. Caroline Orchiston says: “The forum enables an important conversation about the critical role of tourism in emergency response. It recognises the sector has an essential role to play before, during and after large scale natural hazard events, in terms of preparedness, looking after our tourists and in building a more resilient industry.

“While we can’t predict when earthquakes will occur, scientific research has shown that the Alpine Fault has a history of generating regular, large earthquakes. The next major Alpine Fault event is likely to occur within the lifetime of most of us, or of our children and young people, for whom this is likely to have major short and long-term impacts.

“Following an AF8 earthquake, we can expect significant international media attention, and how we look after our visitors will be scrutinised. It’s essential that these discussions are had so that connections are made and plans are in place to ensure we can respond effectively.”

The AF8 Tourism Forum is part of an ongoing series of activities to continue conversations and knowledge sharing around large natural hazard events like an Alpine Fault earthquake, ensuring that communities and agencies are collectively better prepared.

A full agenda from the event is available here: af8.org.nz/tourism-forum

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