At the beginning of the year, and then again in October AHATA send the Minister of Transport, Communication and Primary Sector Government of Aruba Oranjestad, a letter.
It expressed AHATA’s concerns regarding UTV vehicles and tourists on Aruba, and it was received by the minister TWICE, recommending new regulation for reasons of safety of our tourists and the reputation of our island. Additionally, it warned against the increasing toll the large number of vehicles imposes on our flora and fauna, and local neighborhoods
AHATA stands for tourism companies that operate in a responsible and safe manner, the letter said, and we endorse introduction of regulation to ensure safe circumstances for our tourists, our community, and to protect natural habitats. In consultation with our members that operate UTV tours, we had compiled the attached set of regulations to propose for legislation, it stated.
The strong letter also requested that the rules be introduced by law AND by a sound plan for enforcement and a clear definition of which agency is authorized and responsible for such enforcement.
Repercussions for lack of compliance? The letter endorsed fines, and eventual loss of permits, by offenders.
WAS ANY PROGRESS MADE?
It seems like ziltch, though the letter was addressed to the Minister of Tourism, Public Health and Sport, and to the Minister of Justice, Security, and Integration, who both have a stake in the issue.
The following was suggested, for UTV Operators:
- Strict enforcement of required permits and regulations to be able to operate.
- Ban the rental of UTV/ATV vehicles directly to individuals. Rental is only allowed by a registered operator in a guided tour (caravan style).
- Max size of a caravan is 10, including 1 guide in front, 1 guide in back and 8 tourist vehicles in between.
- If vehicles are owned or leased, all rules and requirements must be complied with (including proper license plates, insurance, etc).
- Every operator must have an insurance policy which includes liability insurance with a minimum of USD $1M coverage per incident.
- All operators must have a written safety manual and proof that every employee has read and signed it.
- Safety and rules briefing for each tourist driver is required, prior to start of tours.
- Every operator must have a set of written Accident & Incident Procedures dealing with the handling of guests in the event of an accident/incident.
- A properly stocked first aid kit must always be in the guide vehicle.
- Every guide must have properly working cell phone in the event of emergencies.
- Every guide/driver must have a “green card” (health card).
- Minimum age for guides is 25 years.
- Minimum age to drive the vehicle is 23 years.
- Minimum age for passengers is 12 years.
- Every guide must be first aid certified and be recertified annually.
- Every vehicle must be inspected by the authorities annually and can be determined to be beyond their lifespan after 18 months (lifespan can vary depending on type of UTV vehicle, a Sports Side Vehicle has a longer lifespan with off-roading than farming vehicles, for example).
- Every vehicle must be equipped with turn-signal lights, and governors to regulate speed.
- UTV’s are required to be well-maintained and Operators are required to keep up to date maintenance records of every vehicle which must be made available for inspection by the authorities upon request.
- Dangerous maneuvers such as fishtailing, donuts, driving in undesignated areas or off the trail are prohibited by all drivers.
- Guides are required to respect and protect local flora and fauna.
- Ban the vehicles from certain roads/main arteries (such as Irausquin Blvd, L.G. Smith Blvd, Downtown, etc.)
Additionally: 22. Protect certain trails/areas from use by any motorized vehicles. Note: Need to determine what authority is responsible for ensuring compliance and the consequences of or penalties for non-compliance.
If you read through the suggested regulation it’s all common sense, and nothing excessive. The free for all fosters resentment. It is in the interest of the Operators to regulate.
Minister, fish or cut the bait!