Australian Anomalies

A recent tragedy at an Australian theme park in Brisbane left both park operators and management at the parent company scrambling for answers. When an incident on the Thunder Rapids Ride at Dreamworld resulted in the death of four people, owner Ardent Leisure’s CEO Deborah Thomas made a public gaffe at the company’s press conference when she claimed not to know how to contact the victim’s families (the families then sent their contact information to a journalist in attendance.)

According to Australian crisis management expert Sandy Hollway, in an article in National Business Review, immediate contact with the family is crucial. Hollway’s “10 Commandments of Destination Recovery from Crisis”, as reported by ETB Travel News after his speech to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Tourism Foundation in 2007, laid out the following points:

  • 1. Collaboration between the private sector and the public sector;
  • 2. Dedicated machinery and resources devoted to recovery, within agreed time limits;
  • 3. In the case of destination recovery, all tiers of government should be involved;
  • 4. Rapid response, especially in dealing with traditional and social media;
  • 5. Engagement and support for the affected community, especially victims;
  • 6. Public communications which are centralised, honest and informative;
  • 7. Proper process with planned outcomes;
  • 8. Importance should be placed on people more than budgets;
  • 9. Strategic and contingency planning to get ahead of the curve;
  • 10. A focus on building back better.

“There is no legitimate excuse for failing to contact the immediate families of the victims,” wrote David Beirman, senior lecturer, tourism, University of Technology Sydney, at NBR and The Conversation. “Whether the crisis results from a plane crash, hotel fire or a natural disaster, all tourism related businesses should know victims come first.”