Australia tourism sector exposed to public liability claims

Date: Aug 28, 2013

Because many of Australia's coastal towns depend on tourism to survive, service companies are always aware of how disastrous a public liability injury claim can be.

The threat of claims has historically been so high that the Sustainable Tourism Co-operative Research Centre conducted a study to compile the tourism sectors and activities that are associated with the most injury claims.

The report found that while some initiatives to address the danger of certain tourist activities have begun, they range from state to state and differ among industries.

"This piecemeal approach to risk management means that beneficial programs and relevant risk profile data has not been effectively communicated to all industry stakeholders," the report warned.

To ensure the country's tourism sector stays as vibrant as it has been for decades, more safety measures may need to be put in place to safeguard visitors from accidents.

Accidents happen

The most recent incident in which a tourist attraction led to an injury occurred during a camel ride on a beach in the Shire of Broome. Municipal officials are currently investigating the accident.

Early indications show that a woman was on one of the sunset camel rides Red Sun Camels offers on Cable Beach with her daughter. The camel allegedly rose up on its hind legs, tossing the woman and her daughter to the sand below.

Initially, emergency crews suspected the woman may have suffered a broken back, but she was later discharged from the Broome Regional Hospital and travelled home to Melbourne.

Assessing legal options

It's been about a month since the incident, and in this time, Red Sun Camels owner John Geappen said he has been in contact with the woman to learn more about her plans to potentially take legal action.

Mr Geappen told the media that in the 13 years he has been running the service, he has never seen such an accident. He's confident that the camel won't try to buck its passengers again.

"We haven't been able to ascertain what caused him to do the little skip that he did, but we're confident he'll be fine," he said. "We wouldn't put him back in the train if we didn't."

Broome Shire is still conducting an investigation to determine if Mr Geappen was in compliance with all health and safety laws.

If he wasn't, there is a chance the woman could file some form of public liability injury claim.

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