South African Adventure Activities

A SUMMARY OF REGULATION IN THE ADVENTURE INDUSTRY - Johan Radcliffe, Dirty Boots | 12 June 2014


1) List of activities available in South Africa
2) 3 Examples of self-regulation
3) Associations that could self-regulate
4) South Africa’s Hot Air Ballooning Industry by Bill Harrop
5) Government departments involved in Adv Tourism Regulation
6) What are we regulating?
7) Dirty Boots recommendations for regulation
8) The NQF and MDT Qualification process - by Gavin Raubenheimer
9) SA Safety Management Framework Work in progress (May 2014)

South Africa Activity List

4x4 Tours              
Aerial Boardwalk      
Aerial Cable Tour      
Aerobatic Flight
Beach Horse Riding    
Big Swing
Blokart /Land sailing    
Boat Trips             
Bridge Walking        
Bungee Jumping       
Cable Skiing
Camel Rides          
Canopy Tour
Clay Pigeon Shooting
Cycle Tours
Deep Sea Fishing
Dragon boat Racing
Elephant Back Safaris
Fantastic Racing
Gravel Karts
Gyrocopter Flights
Hang Gliding
Helicopter Flights
Horse Riding
Horse Safaris
Hot-Air Ballooning
Houseboat Charters
Jet Flights
Microlight Flights
Motorcycle Tours
Pony Trekking
Quad Biking
River Rafting
Rock Climbing
SCAD Freefall
Scenic Flights
Scuba Diving
Sea kayaking
Seal Snorkelling
Seal Trips
Segway Tours
Shark Cage Diving
Sidecar Tours
Snow Skiing
Tiger Fishing
Turtle Tracking
Walking Safaris
Whale Watching
Whale Watching Flights
Whale Watching Trips
White Water kayaking
Zip Line

Three examples of regulations currently in place for certain adventure activities in South Africa.

1) Scuba Diving operation needs the following:
- Register as a dive center with PADI, MAUI or SSI
- Pass an annual SAMSA inspection
- A permit from DEAT
- A dive master is needed on the dive and a commercial dive charter skipper on the boat.
- If it transports clients to the dive site it needs a vehicle operators permit and the driver must have his/her PDP

2) A River Rafting operator needs the following:
- A Registered river guide with paddling qualifications from APA and be a CATHSETA registered guide
- Pass an annual SAMSA inspection
- If it transports clients to the dive site it needs a vehicle operators permit and the driver must have his/her PDP

3) A Surf Tour company needs the following:
- Its instructors/guides must be registered with the SSA as surfing coaches.
- If it transports clients to the surf location it needs a vehicle operators permit and the driver must have his/her PDP

As you can see from the above certain activities are already over regulated whilst others have no regulation. If we add generic regulation it will have a negative effect on the well or over regulated adventure activities and little effect on the non-regulated adventures.

Herewith a list of some of the adventure activities that have no regulation or associations governing them; Sandboarding, Zip lining, Quad Biking, Acrobranch, Bungee Jumping, Big Swings, Scootours, Kloofing,  Caving.

My recommendation here is draw up a comprehensive report on what adventure activities are regulated and how, including a list of non-regulated activities. Included in this report should be a grading system for the risk

Associations that could self-regulate and their activities

1) African paddling Association (APA)
- River Rafting
- Tubing
- Kayaking
- Sea kayaking
- White Water Kayaking
- Canoeing (as an activity not a sport)

2) Parachute Association of South Africa (PASA)
- Skydiving

3) South African Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (SAHPA)
- Paragliding

4) Balloon & Airship Federation of South Africa (BAFSA)
- Hot Air Ballooning

5) South African Boat Based Whale Watching Association (SABBWWA)
- Whale Watching

6) South African Mountaineering Development and Training Program (SAMDT)
- Hiking
- Mountaineering
- Rock Climbing
- Bouldering
- Abseiling
- Rapp Jumping
- Kloofing
- Via Farrata

7) Great White Shark Protection Foundation (GWSPF)
- Shark Cage Diving

8) Surfing South Africa (SSA)
- Surfing Tours

9) Recreation Aviation Administration South Africa (RAASA)
- Microlight flights
- Gliding
- Aerobatic Flights
- Gyrocopters
- Jet Flights

10) Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI)
- Scuba Diving

11) Clay Target Shooting Association of South Africa (CTSASA)
- Clay Pigeon Shooting at Tourist venues

12) Cape Charter Boat Association
- Deep Sea Fishing
- Fishing Charters

South Africa’s Hot Air Ballooning Industry by Bill Harrop
I see the SA ballooning industry (and sport) as a good example of an adventure activity where the regulating and enforcement authority (CAA/DOT) is led by the stakeholders.  If anything, BAFSA, with the (sometimes grudging) consent of COBASA has directed or,  actually written, the regulations that now set the standards for safety and good practice of ballooning in SA.

• Aviation in all its forms is highly regulated with lots of checks and oversight in place and it is within this regime that Ballooning has a place. Hence I believe ballooning, both sport and commercial, is one of the more regulated adventure sports/activities.

• BAFSA as an organisation is mandated by SACAA to represent Balloon pilots both sport and commercial in South Africa. I see BAFSA as the main driving force that directs the evolution of regulations that affect recreational and commercial ballooning in S.A. BAFSA kindly consults with COBASA when there are issues that require the input from or opinions of commercial operators. In some cases, the roles are reversed and COBASA engages directly with CAA, testing its opinions with BAFSA (the issue of life jackets and flying over water, for instance). This role has recently been more clearly defined as the sport and industry expand and new regulations are required. BAFSA is entrusted with the writing of regulations (true self-regulation) BUT the proviso is that the standards we set at least meet minimum standards of other members of ICAO or generally accepted good practice. Recently gazetted regulations i.e. Parts 69 and Part 136 of the Aviation Act are examples of regulations BAFSA has put in place. BAFSA has also recently successfully completed a 2 year process of upgrading and implementing a revised Student Pilot training program.

• As a section member of Aeroclub we are able to keep an eye on new developments within aviation and add our voice where needed. A recent example was to oppose the increase of the size of the controlled airspace around Lanseria Airport. Another would be opposing the carrying of transponders in balloons.

In terms of challenges:
• SACAA have a fairly high staff turnover and Ballooning is a specialised field. No sooner than we reach an understanding on both sides regarding an issue – our liaison at SACAA either resigns or is transferred away and the process starts from scratch as we need to first explain why ballooning is unique and needs its own rules and regulations. This results in changes and implementation taking a great deal longer than it should.

• BAFSA is “manned” by volunteers and currently has no full time staff and this could mean BAFSA is not reaching its potential?

• Also financial liability for people serving on such committees is becoming an issue. We may be found liable for damages in an incident/accident scenario that results from our oversight role? We might have to look at insuring committee member against such claims

The future:
• We are currently following the international trend and are setting up a fully-fledged ATO – Aviation Training Organisation. This will mean our training will be more strictly controlled and allow us to start the process of training and licensing commercial pilots so as to encourage employment of local as opposed to foreign pilots.

• The above regulations need technical standards to be written and the process has been started, these should be completed before the end of 2014.

• Member lethargy … we hope to get members more active within the organization as buy-in is vital to growth and strength as an organization. BAFSA would also like to be a member driven as opposed to committee driven organization.

• Without the guidance and direction given by BAFSA in consultation with its members and COBASA, we would have faced two possible scenarios:
1. One where regulations were left as they were, outdated and
Inadequate to uphold international norms and leaving the industry and sport exposed to unchecked risks.

2. Another where the regulating authority proceeded to pen draconian
regulations, thereby smothering the sport and industry with standards that cannot reasonably be complied with.

Government departments already involved in Adventure Tourism

I. CATHSSETA – Culture, Arts, Hospitality, Sport Sector Education and Training Authority

II. SAMSA – South Africa Marine Safety Authority

III. SAQA – SA Quality Authority

IV. NQF – National Qualification Framework

V. THETA – Tourism, Hospitality & Sport Education Training Authority

VI. DAF - Department of Agriculture and Fishery

VII. DEAT – Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

VIII. CAA – Civil Aviation Authority

What and Who are we regulating?

Adventure Sport and training
Do we get involved in regulating the activity itself; for example do we tell para-gliders or scuba divers how to regulate their sport or get involved in the training of new skydivers?

Adventure Education
Do we get involved with the rules to govern adventure schools, adventure based learning, outdoor schools, guide training?  Should this not fall under the Ministry of Education?

Adventure & Sport Training officers and registration
Is it our job to make sure that the Microlight pilot trainer is trained to do is job or the safety inspectors knows what to look for.  Do we get involved in the different levels of guide qualification?

Adventure Travel
What about the kite surfer and Rock Climber who travels to South Africa to practice his sport in a unique location.  Must we regulate what this type of tourist gets up to? If a white water kayaker from overseas would like to paddle over some extreme waterfall should we prohibit him or encourage him?

Adventure operators
This is where our focus will be - Adventure Operators.  Before proceeding we have to define what an adventure operator is and then concentrate our efforts on these companies.  Basically an adventure operator is a company that offers an adventure activity for remuneration.  The client partakes in the adventure activity only once and is looked after by a trained specialist guide in that sport.  Here we can separate for example a tandem paraglide operator who operates from a specific location (ie Lions Head, Cape Town) to that of a paragliding training school and have separate regulations for this specific location and activity. This type of regulation will encourage growth in the adventure industry.

Dirty Boots recommendations for regulation

- The main objective is to promote a professional and safe adventure industry in South Africa.

- The steering committee can act as a lobbying group for the industry and give recommendations in fields related to the adventure industry without getting involved.

- It needs to be headed by an individual who knows the adventure industry and has political maneuverability.

- Secure seed funding for the adventure sport associations to assist them in regulation, promotion, education and marketing of their sports

- Dirty Boots agrees with the recommendation that this structure lies within SATSA, we have been promoting this idea for 10 years now.  We need an adventure travel arm to SATSA.

- The regulation body should not get involved in training but only give recommendations to the appropriate government body responsible for education and training.

- Let’s learn from the New Zealand case study and keep it simple, complicated regulation cannot be enforced and is not financially viable for our industry. It took them 3 years!

- Make sure the regulation process involves all parties in the adventure industry who will be affected and communicate effectively to them.

- Whatever regulations that are put in place must be enforceable.

- Collect comprehensive data on adventure industry to enable us to make educated decisions.

- On completion communicate all regulation to the public and adventure industry regularly.


The first thing to understand is that there are two different and entirely separate processes by which you can gain mountaineering qualifications in South Africa.

A) An Award from the Mountain Development Trust or MDT.  These awards are considered the industry standard as they serve as a better indication of a persons skills.  Some of the Awards carry international recognition of the Union of International Alpine Associations (UIAA). But these awards do not qualify the person to be a professional mountain guide *(but this maybe about to change).  These awards are for people who will take responsibility for others in a mountain environment but not for direct monetary reward. The higher instructor awards enable people to charge money for instructing courses etc. but not actually guiding. 

B) A National Qualifications Framework qualification is similar but enables a person to register as a Mountain Guide at one of several levels. 

Further, the skills of the various MDT Awards are almost identical to the skills needed for the NQF qualifications.  Therefore it makes sense to do the MDT training and if one wants to guide, then an assessment takes place testing for both the MDT Award and an NQF qualification. One could say that largely the difference in the two assessments is in the rubberstamp at the end. 

For example: MDT Advanced Mountain Walking Leader award has the same skills as the NQF Mountain Walking Guide certificate.

To be a professional mountain guide:

In order to practice as a Mountain Guide there are two basic components to fulfill.  Firstly one must gain one or other of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Mountain Guiding Qualifications. Once found competent and in possession of a Qualification Certificate then registration as a Guide must take place with the Provincial Registrar of Guides in the area where the Guide will practice.  The Registrar is under the control of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT)   

* Note: As of October 2012, the Provincial registrar   in KZ-N has indicated that they will probably accept people doing the NQF Core and Fundamentals and recognize the MDT Mountaineering standards to practice as guide in KwaZulu-Natal. This is yet to be officially announced. 

What Peak High recommends:

Gavin Raubenheimer holds the top awards in both NQF and the MDT. He can train people for both types of qualifications and can assess all the MDT Awards but not the NQF assessments. (Gavin has the required Unit standards to do these NQF assessments but is still waiting for the registration to be processed as of June 2011)

So Peak High recommends doing the MDT training for both MDT and NQF guide skills with us and if you want to be assessed later to guide, then we will put you in touch with the correct assessor when you are ready.

To be a MDT Instructor or have a supervisor award:
The Mountain Development Trust (MDT). This is public organization which sets out mountaineering standards and awards in South Africa.  It has two routes of qualifications:

1) Rock climbing and mountaineering and abseiling awards.
2) Mountain walking awards (hiking) 

At the top end of the rock climbing awards one finds the Rock Climbing Instructor Award and likewise in the Mountain Walking side there is a Mountain Walking Instructor.
The combination of both these Instructor Awards and some additional skills gives a person a Mountaineering Award

The NQF system
The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) came about as an act of Parliament in 1995 under the South African Qualification Act of that year.  This gave rise to the National Qualifications Framework or NQF.

Falling under SAQA are a number of Standards Generating Bodies or SGBs who are responsible for setting standards in all the disciplines.

Sector Education and Training Authorities or SETAs consist of 25 organisations representing all possible professions in the country. The twenty fifth SETA is the Tourism, Sport, Hospitality, Education Training Authority (THETA) . Mountain Guiding falls under THETA.

The NQF is called a framework as it is a framework on which all qualifications are pegged and comparable to each other.

The NQF consists of 8 levels starting at Level 0 which denotes no schooling and then rises up to Level 1 which is roughly equivalent to present day Grade 9. Levels 2 - 4 are comparable with Grades 10-12 of schooling.  Levels 5-8 are concerned with National Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees. 

The actual qualifications are made up of Unit Standards. These are the building blocks of the various qualifications. Unit Standards are in turn made up of Specific Outcomes which are the actual skills and knowledge that a learner must display and be competent at.

The Unit Standard is then given a Credit number according to the average amount of time it would take to learn a particular skill.  One Credit is roughly equivalent to 10 hours of learning. 
Individual Unit Standards are assigned one of these levels, depending on the level of learning required. eg. Abseil Guide Level 2 denotes that this guide must display a skill level in Abseil Guiding comparable to a present day Grade 9 or 10. 

“Clusterings” of Unit Standards then make up the actual qualifications.  There are 2 main qualifications which affect the Mountain Guiding industry. These are Skills Programs which must consist of at least 20 Credits or more.  Then there are National Certificates consisting of at least 120 credits.

In order to help identify each Unit Standard or Qualification a code is given to each one.  It can be described as follows.  Skills Programs all start with TD standing for Training and Development . The number thereafter stands for the number of the Unit Standard in the series making up the program.  Certificates start with letters denoting what area or SETA of the NQF they fall under. For example the letters TG stand for Tour Guiding. The letter there after is a C   denoting it is a certificate. The numbers show at which NQF level it is at.  eg. TGC 02.

If no C appears it merely denotes a Unit Standard and its numerical number in the series. 

Unit Standards which carry an XX in front of a number show that they are generic standards which are used not only in guiding but throughout the NQF.

As stated before there are two qualification levels which affect Mountain Guiding. These are Skills Programs (20 credits) and National Certificates (120 credits or more).  Skills Programs usually consist of two or three Unit Standards.  National Certificates consist of many Unit Standards. These are divided into 3 categories namely Fundamental, Core and Elective Unit Standards.  The Fundamentals and Core are the basic generic standards required by all Guides. The Electives are the Unit Standards which denote in which discipline the qualification is, eg. Mountain Guiding or Cultural Guiding.

At present there are three Skills Programs for Mountain Guides.  These are:

* Single Pitch Guide TG22 + Create a Guided Experience for Customers TG01
* Abseil Guide of less than 60 meters TG 20 + Abseil Guide of greater than 60 meters and not more than 150 meters TG21 + TG01
*Mountain Walking Guide in a limited Geographical Area TG19 + TG01.

On gaining a Skills Program a learner can register with DEAT as a Site Guide in one of the above 3 categories. 

Thereafter there is the National Certificate in Tourism, Guiding,  Mountaineering   at NQF Level 2 or level 4.  With these Certificates after gaining all the Core and Fundamental Unit standards,  Elective Unit Standards in Mountain Walking Guide TG25 or Guided Rock Climbing TG23 or Guided Mountaineering TG26 need to be completed. Thereafter registration with DEAT can take place.