Government tightens rules for Swiss mountain guides

Mountain guides and other providers of high-risk sporting activities that earn at least CHF1 will need to obtain a license from cantonal authorities starting in May. Keystone

Stricter rules for mountain guides and organisers of high-risk sports will come into effect in May to raise professional standards and improve customer safety.

This content was published on January 30, 2019 - 13:52

On Wednesday, the Federal Council (executive body) announced a revision to the Risk Activities Act would come into force on May 1, setting new standards for organisers of high-risk sports or recreational activities such as bungee jumping, river rafting, alpine hiking and canyoning.

From May, anyone who earns over one franc per year for providing such activities will be considered a commercial entity and, thus, will be required to obtain a license from cantonal authorities. This would eliminate the current threshold requirement for a licence of CHF2,300 per year.

Non-profit associations, in which activities are only offered to association members, are exempt from the rules.

The revisions also introduce minimum safety requirements based on ISO standards. The Federal Office of Sport will recognise the certification bodies.

+ Read more about what it is like to be a mountain guide

New entrants to the profession including climbing teachers and aspiring mountain guides are also expected to receive authorisation as they may accompany their own clients.

The initial Risk Activities Act came into force in 2014. It was initiated by a former member for parliament, Jean-Michel Cina, after a canyoning accident in the Bernese Oberland in central Switzerland. In 2016, the government wanted to repeal the law as part of a cost-cutting measure and thus save CHF150,000 but criticism caused it to back down.

The Swiss Alpine Club reported that the number of deadly incidents in the Swiss mountains nearly doubled to 136 in the first nine months of 2018, compared with the same period last year.

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