Indian adventure tourism guidelines 2017

Dear Adventurer,
This document exemplifies teamwork in the Indian adventure tourism fraternity. We are grateful to the entire Adventure Operators
Association of India (ATOAI) team that burnt the midnight oil to produce the Indian Adventure Tourism Standards that will serve
as a ‘guiding light’ for the adventure tourism industry in India for years to come. In 2012, ATOAI had conducted a 4 Pillar workshop,
which had laid a strong foundation for Indian Adventure Tourism Standards. The four pillars emphasised included Safety, Sustainability,
Ethics and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
With adventure travel experience in over 40 countries spread over seven continents, we firmly believe that India has the potential of
becoming a major global hub for adventure tourism. We have every conceivable geographical terrain, are a global bio-diversity hotspot,
have 73 percent of a culturally diverse Himalayan range in India, rich fauna, flora and avifauna …… We could go on and on….. Given our
huge potential, adventure and sustainable tourism could easily double our inbound tourism figures, that is presently put at 8 million tourists.
To my mind, there are three Gs that are critical when it comes to risk management: risk mitigation and management viz Guidelines,
Guides and Gear. We have tried to address all three aspects in the
We have to ensure that we follow the standards and also spread the
message that these guidelines should be considered as gospel.
The wilderness areas where we operate our trips are sacred places
for us. Let us worship these places, protect them, tread lightly and
work as honorary wardens of our ‘great outdoors’.
Wishing you happy and safe adventures…..
Ajeet Bajaj
Padmashri Awardee
Co Founder / Sr. Vice President
Adventure Tour Operators Association of India


2.1 With 73 percent of the Himalayan range in India, trekking has become the most popular adventure activity in the country. These Basic Minimum Standards will apply specifically to commercial trekking expeditions across the country and at altitudes above 2000 meters.

a) Who are leading trekking activities must be skilled and qualified to lead trekking groups. Trek leaders should have a certificate issued by a MOT recognised adventure tour operator stating that the individual “has experience of 3 years in assisting trekking expeditions at altitudes of 2000 m and above and is independently capable of guiding trekking groups and carrying out rescue operations” OR : completed the Basic Mountaineering Course from any of the National Mountaineering Institutes and carry a certificate duly authenticated by an IMF recognized body OR IMF accredited tour operator.
b) Maintain a logbook containing authenticated records of trekking experience.
c) Must have valid certification of minimum 16 hour (2 day) first aid and CPR course provided by a recognised and qualified provider. Equipment required Equipment care and maintenance
2.3 The correct use and proper maintenance of trekking equipment is essential for conducting trekking activities and should never be taken lightly.
2.4 Trekking equipment such as tents, sleeping bags etc should be appropriate for the terrain in which it is being used.
2.5 All equipment is subject to wear and tear and must be checked before every use. Proper Equipment must be stored properly and inspected periodically. Unserviceable equipment should be discarded immediately. Operators 70 and leaders must have sound knowledge of this and have systems in place in order to control and manage their equipment. Inspection and maintenance procedures
2.6 Inspection and maintenance require sound knowledge of the systems and equipment and must be carried out by qualified persons, as a minimum the inspector must be a qualified guide/instructor. Basic inspections must be carried out before every use with detailed inspections carried out on a regular basis in accordance with their operational procedures and risk assessments. SOP’s and operating instructions
2.7 All Trekking Tour Operators must maintain and update a Standard Operating Procedure for their operations and get the same vetted from ATOAI from time to time. SOP’s should be in accordance with risk management practices recommended by ATOAI.
2.8 SOP’s for organizing the trekking expedition, such as assessing of members qualification, medical condition and experience,GUIDELINES FOR TREKKING procedures for obtaining various permissions, travel to the trekking area, maintenance of base camp including hygiene, precautions for avoiding high altitude sickness, safety precautions, communication, weather reports, procedure for emergencies, communication protocol, casualty evacuation, incident and accident reporting and feedback mechanism must be well documented and part of staff training. The following must be included in the SOPS: a) The guiding and porter staff on the mountain and the material supplied must be adequate for the aims of the party and stated level of service offered.
b) Advance arrangements must be known for medical help. Advance arrangements must also be made for evacuation assistance in case of emergency. A detailed Emergency Action Plan must be in position and communicated to all concerned prior to the commencement of the trek.
c) Advertising must give a true picture of all the difficulties and dangers involved, and avoid promising the impossible. For commercial trekking expeditions, information about the guiding team and their experience should be sent to the clients before hand .
d) The client must truthfully reveal his experience, supported by documentation/ photograph, medical history etc to the organiser so that the organiser can make an informed choice about the potential client. For high altitude treks a doctor’s fitness certificate for clients is recommended.
e) Information supplied in advance will include a clear statement of the guiding, porterage and equipment which will be supplied by the organiser, together with a detailed gear / clothing list for the clients.
f) Sustainability guidelines : In accordance with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria adopted by ATOAI with strong adherence to ‘ leave no trace’ policy. Documentation
2.9 The tour operator must maintain, at the minimum the following documentation: a) Details of all Guides and Instructors including copies of certifications, record of trekking experience and feedback from clients.

2.10 Risk mitigation In order to mitigate risk of high altitude trekking, the following is advised:
a) To get participants medically examined before starting on the journey. A visit to a dentist is also recommended prior to multi day treks.
b) Unless guided by a highly experienced guide, at least two members of the party have experience of high altitude trekking with valid First Aid/ CPR certification.
c) Ensure that environmental safeguards are implemented in their programme so that the area visited by them suffers no damage, and is left clean for subsequent expeditions.
d) The operator must ensure that a comprehensive risk assessment is done and properly documented before operating any trekking expedition.
2.11 Emergencies and Rescues:
a) Adequate first aid medical equipment must be available with the party. For high altitude treks an oxygen cylinder and gamow bag are recommended.
b) Evacuation routes must be identified and known to participants, guides and instructors.
c) A detailed and documented Emergency Action Plan with emergency contact numbers must be available with the party along with closest available emergency services which can be called upon as required. 72
2.12 Safety briefing
a) Safety briefing should form an integral part of a daily routine of the lead guide / trip leader.
b) Where significant risks have been identified, lead guides should explain these risks and advise clients of any action needed to safeguard themselves.
c) Local guides / trip leader’s primary responsibility is to ensure safety of the clients, support staff and themselves.
d) This requirement comes before all other responsibilities and the lead guides / trip leaders should be assured that any decision made by them to ensure the safety of all will be supported by the company. e) Safety briefing should also include information about weather forecast ( if available ), elevation profile, time taken on the trail, hazards, hydration and trail hygiene.
2.13 Medical concerns
a) Local guides / trip leaders should be aware of any common health risks that may be present on a trekking expedition and should know how to prevent and treat problems. This may include environment related conditions such as hypothermia, sunstroke or altitude sickness.
b) The lead guide / trip leaders should be aware of any pre-existing medical conditions/ allergies within the group and this information should be checked during the main briefing. The lead guide must speak to the client/s who declare such conditions to gain a clear understanding of the medical concern.
c) The lead guide / trip leaders must be aware of the local / nearest possible emergency services available and how to contact them.
d) Must carry First Aid / Medical kit with emergency medicines as required and it is absolutely important that first aid kits are routinely checked for expiration of medicines and serviceability and replaced as necessary.
GUIDELINES FOR TREKKING “Basic Minimum Standards” for grant of recognition to Adventure Tour operators
a) The operator should have a minimum of three qualified staff. The owner of the firm could be included as one of the qualified employees. Either, the Owner / Director or their Operations – Chief should be well qualified in the activity the adventure operator wants to pursue, which is determined by certification by any national or international institute in the activity or minimum of three years of practical experience.
b) The operators must have their own adventure equipment.
c) The field staff of Adventure Tour Operator must be qualified for the activity or must have minimum of three years of practical experience.
d) Field staff of the company must be qualified in First – Aid / C.P.R by Red Cross or equivalent body or Certificate Course conducted by the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India.
e) The company must sign an undertaking for adherence to sustainable practices and protection of environment in keeping with guidelines for ecotourism and safety guidelines of Ministry of Tourism / Adventure Tour Operator Association of India.
f) The company must maintain in its office premises all the maps and reference material.
g) The company must have printed brochure or website clearly describing its i) present activities (ii) Its area of operation (iii) its commitment to follow Ecotourism guidelines / GSTC guidelines adopted by ATOAI.
h) The company must follow a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy and conform to high sustainability standards.

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